When slathering food with hot sauce or freshly ground chiles no longer delivers a sustained stream of endorphins to fire breathing humanoids like myself, additional sources of that highly addictive, recreational burn are frequently sought out.
Pepper and cinnamon infused beverages can occasionally deliver a spicy albeit fleeting distraction, as can certain trendy snack foods, but for a reliably complementary yin to one’s chile-laden mealtime yang, look no further than certain salivation-triggering candies.
Ah yes, ever-enduring Hot Tamales certainly fit the bill. Though Americans may have a torrid, love-hate relationship with the chewy cinnamon candy, it has nonetheless continued dazzling daring palates for the better part of 62 years.
To this day, Just Born’s classic cinnamon triumph remains the top selling candy of its kind in the U.S., but the Lehigh Valley manufacturer is hardly resting on its laurels. From limited edition cinnamon jelly beans and Easter-themed spice versions to gum and the latest entry in their tongue-tingling empire, Hot Tamales 3 Alarm, your taste buds are going to kick into salivary overdrive.
Each package contains a hearty assortment of oblong jelly bean like candies in three different flavors – the orange is “hot”, while the remaining two red pigmented varieties are “hotter” and “hottest”.
My tasting panel and I unanimously agreed that Just Born zoned in on a great idea, especially in light of current spicy culinary trends and the fact that our culture embraces novelty just as much as diverse flavor choices. However, all of us had a bone to pick regarding the poorly chosen color palate of this particular product, which we though could have easily been more distinctive.
Sure, genuine cinnamon bark has far more of a bronze tone than it does red, but none of us thought that the orange-colored Hot Tamales in this flavor selection were properly indicative of the cinnamon nuances within. Similarly, the remaining red pigmented 3 Alarm candies were so close in tone that unless you’re highly scrutinizing or you hold each one up to the light while comparing them to the color chart on the back of the package, you might inadvertently chow down on a “hottest” rather than a “hotter” Hot Tamale. Editor’s Note: I had no problem picking out the difference in color between hotter and hottest.
After chewing, chit-chatting, combining flavors, critiquing, and then chewing even more, this is what four adults with very different culinary backgrounds thought of each individual Hot Tamales 3 Alarm flavor…
This “hot” candy has a flavor that is reminiscent of Red Hots but with a far more appealing, chewy texture. For spice-fearing individuals, this is an excellent gateway candy, but for seasoned capsaicin-craving professionals, you might want to pass on the orange altogether since it offers nothing more than a warm whisper of cinnamon.
The “hotter” Tamale delivers the traditional cinnamon candy flavor that everyone knows and loves, courtesy of a deep hit of happy, tongue-tickling spice. Of all the taste sensations found in a box of Hot Tamales 3 Alarm, this is clearly the crowd-pleasing compromise. Although the initial burn subsides rather quickly (which half of the seasoned, chile-loving tasters in our panel bemoaned), the other half celebrated the few second sizzle because it simply meant that it was time to reach inside the box for another.
REDDISH BURGUNDY (Hottest)
The “hottest” of the Hot Tamales 3 Alarm flavor selections, this slightly deeper red panned jelly candy earned the highest marks among our capsaicin freaks for its deep spice delivery system – admittedly far less like cinnamon and a whole lot more like ground red pepper. That may sound off-putting to some, but when integrated within the sweet Tamales jelly candy base, it works. On the other hand, our remaining tasters said that this flavor was not an appropriate flavor for a candy, complaining that it was like straight up hot sauce and that they’d prefer to avoid it at all costs.
True Hot Tamales aficionados may view this product as slightly more gimmicky than an absolute must have, but the “hottest” flavor in this spicy cinnamon assortment may still happily engage the daredevil within. Regardless of your particular spice tolerance, whip out a pack of these cinnamon treats among mixed company and watch the conversational juices start to flow.
Candy Addict® received this product as a sample from the manufacturer. No payment was received for this review and all opinions represent an unbiased view of the product.