Traditional licorice candy isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but it certainly has an enduring presence whether tucked inside the nightstand of a grandparent or happily gobbled up by boisterous teens in the back of a dark movie theater.
Made from Glycyrrhiza glabra root extract mixed with wheat flour, molasses, and sugar, the deep dark chewy sensation – depending on which resource you consult – is also either incredibly therapeutic for the treatment of sore throats and respiratory ailments or bad news for Candy AddictsÂ® who don’t want to fall victim to a premature heart attack.
Fortunately for 92 year old natural confectionery institution Panda,
legions of licorice believers have chosen to rally in favor of the angelic side of their favorite treat. As a result, fans have been privy to everything from soft, conventional, bite-sized black chews to crunchy candy coated versions and varieties infused with ripe cherry and raspberry essence.
Avid readers of this illustrious blog may recall our previous review of their sticky-sweet, dried apricot-esque Raspberry Flavored Bar – a reliable, fruity escape that boasts minimal ingredients with maximum taste bud pizazz. Unlike seemingly comparable efforts by the likes of Darrell Lea, Twizzlers and Red Vines, Panda’s new Blueberry Licorice boasts real berry puree (rather than a mere extract or oil) as the third of six total ingredients.
The result is a truly pliable, fresh-flavored blueberry chew that, with the addition of molasses and a subtle dash of licorice extract, yields an interestingly nuanced yet not at all overpowering treat that is as toothsome as it is kinda-sorta healthy. Licorice loathers really should keep this product in mind as a gateway confection since it’s incredibly easy on the taste buds — by dipping your toes in Panda Blueberry Licorice waters, you’ll experience a happy fruity mouth party rather than a harsh, lingering licorice shakedown.
Since there are no artificial preservatives in Panda’s licorice, my blueberry bites transformed from chewy to semi-crunchy in record time, so if you appreciate your candy morsels soft and squishy, you might want to transfer the contents of your box to a resealable glass, stainless steel, or plastic container stat. Nevertheless, even when they’re “stale”, they’re still entirely edible…they just stick around a bit longer in the nooks and crannies of your teeth.
Overall, I’d say that plunging into a box of these blueberry babies was a perfectly enjoyable diversion – one that registers rather low on the candy consumption scale o’ guilt – but with so many other adventurous sugar rushes on the horizon, I doubt that I’ll be a repeat buyer. Not because they’re not good, but rather because they’re not good enough to capture the sustained adoration of a short-attention-spanned sugar glutton like myself.
Nevertheless, I really do think that Panda has done a fine job with their latest offering and wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a tremendous hit like their candy coated black licorice bites deserve to be. I can say in all honesty that if I was forced to choose between a faux fruit Twizzlers product or a 100% natural one from Panda, the Finnish version would win for flavor and sheer quality, hands down.
So go ahead… give it a try. As far as $2.00 treats go, you can rest assured that your money will be well spent for a one way ticket into fruity-sugar-happy-land!