(the candy awaits judgement)

(Steph combines spicy tamarind chili powder with the atomic sour pop -- she's an innovator!)

(detail of Steph's winning combo)

(the resounding favorite, de la Rosa Mazapan, a peanut-based candy)

(our tasting notes, a 5 star rating system was used)

(this mural is outside of the shop where I bought all my goodies, it's sweet and beautiful)

The sun was shinin', we were cruisin' our neighborhood on our bicycles, kids were playing in the park fountains -- it just seemed like the kind of afternoon to conduct a formal tasting of Mexican candies. Ya know? Why NOT!

Perhaps it's the Southern Cali in me (proximity to Mexico), or the junior-high afternoon memories of super sour candy and jazz dance class (all that sugar and Michael Jackson, I was in heaven!), or my affection for all things simultaneously sweet, sour and spicy, like all the Indian chaat (street snacks) we devoured on a daily basis . . . Whatever the reason, I do love the intense flavors of candies from our Southern neighbors.

For the most part, they are an explosion of spectrum -- each candy almost succeeds in hitting all the taste notes: sweet, sour, salty, spicy, and last, but certainly not least, FUNKY. Some had a funk so profound, we weren't sure if the candy was rotten or maybe it was supposed to be like that -- the undertones of some too-ripe cheese? We were confused by a few, wowed by a couple and downright delighted with one.

Here's a little disclaimer, while most of these candies are great on their own or after a meal, especially nice after some tacos, mole or a gordita, they should not be consumed ALL TOGETHER, on an empty stomach. I pride myself on having a tummy of steel, however, the combo of over 10 various crazy candies kinda did me in. There was a grumble, a pause and a "hmmm...." feeling for a while, but I recovered and dipped back into my bag of tricks for another Peanut Mazapan, the Queen of the Candy!

Here's how the different candies made out:

• De La Rosa Peanut Mazapan -- the #1 candy by all tasters -- like a Mexican peanut halvah. Sandy and pasty, perfectly sweetened and lots of peanut taste. Crumbles in the hand. 5 stars.

• Pico Buzzy -- strange, yet oddly delicious -- salty, sour tamarind crystals. Steph had a great idea to sprinkle this all over a lollypop. I thought it'd be perfect to rim a cocktail with this crazy stuff. Unrated, first candy (forgot to score).

• Chamoy Teco - came in a small bag, like a ketchup bag. tasted like hot, sour, sweet ketchup. Maybe better as a hot and sour sauce, on tofu. Confusing as a candy. Very savory. 1.8 stars.

• Dolche De Leche Chocolate Coin -- some of the waxiest, foulest "chocolate" I've ever had. Drew still likes it, as he says, "I love chocolate." 1.3 stars. BLEGH.

• Cremino by Bicolor- this is a neopolitan bar, with vanilla, strawberry and chocolate side by side. I think it's fantastic, sweet and familiar. Love the dinosaur on the package. Great vanilla section. 2 stars.

• Ante Limon -- a tiny sack of salty lime powder. resembles drugs. We all agreed it's sour saltiness was a great palette cleanser. It could be another great treat to pair with a margarita. Steph noted this took her right back to childhood, she's also a Southern Cali girl. 3.5 stars.

• Mango Fizzle, by Neo USA -- this mango gel concoction burst out of its small cup upon opening, several tasters claimed very flavorful. I felt it akin to a boba in texture, very chewy and gummy. Steph called it 'refreshing.' I thought it'd be better refrigerated. 2.75 stars.

• Tangy Chili Powder - grainy textured red powder, the lovechild of pop rocks and nerds. It's "easy to share" qualities were noted as we poured a little into the palm of our hands. It definitely had a sweet and saltyness, then a big hit of funk. Undetermined where the funk comes from. Could we snort it? 4 stars.

• Pulpamindo -- extra hot, sour and stinky tamarind candy, texture like a deranged fruit-leather. This is a bold candy -- we all are intrigued by it. D even said he was disgusted at first, then mellowed into curiosity then pleasure at the taste, but swore he'd never eat it again. "Maximal Flavor" candy. 4 stars.

• Nucita -- "tastes like strawberry Quick milk," I loved this stuff! Very nice. Others said it was too sweet, I thought it was just right. Delicious even. I noted, "overwhelmingly good." Wow! 3.6 stars.

• Pico Buzzy - sweet, sour, funky, pleasant -- however, the powder gave us sticky hands. Note as good as the other powdered candies. 3.3 stars.

• La Vaquita - cinnamon, vaguely caramel lollipop. Drew and D claimed I "violated" this lolly to taste it properly. I thought it mellow and tasty. Not too sweet. 3 stars.

• Atomic Sour Bomb -- a red lollipop with sour burst in the middle, my mouth is puckering right now as I type this, it was so sour. Very tasty, like a blowpop on the exterior, a crazed sourness within.

That's about it -- do you have an unusual favorite candy, if you do, I'd love to hear about it!

Link to buy these candies, from the Mex Grocer


  1. Is it just a coincidence that this was today's entry on the Writer's Almanac:

    Today is the birthday of author Roald Dahl. One of the few things he enjoyed about his childhood was that the Cadbury chocolate company had chosen his school as a focus group for new candies they were developing. Every so often, a plain gray cardboard box was issued to each child, filled with 11 chocolate bars. It was the children's task to rate the candy, and Dahl took his job very seriously... He later said that the experience got him imagining what a candy factory might be like, and from it wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory(1964).

    Good luck licking! CR

  2. I will have to bring you some of my FAVE gummy mango candies with chili on the outside. I've totally done myself in on those ones... I'm also a fan of a watermelon sucker, also coated with yummy chili.

  3. hahaahah I'm mexican and this post made me lauugh so hard !! you would like the mango candies try dry mangos with chili so good!!