Black licorice is awesome


Black licorice (or "real licorice", if you're nasty) is, like many of those old-timey candies from the days before high-fructose corn syrup, something of an acquired taste—an acquired taste I'd highly recommend acquiring. Beyond the obvious benefits that come from expanding one's food repertoire, black licorice also offers two key advantages:

First, it tends to pack enough of a flavor punch that you aren't going to sit down and eat a pound of the stuff, saving you calories and money, while still supplying a junk food fix.

Second, you usually don't have to share. In fact, you can offer, and everybody will turn you down, so you still look like a good person even though you're really being a giant, selfish candy hoarder.

But where to start? I found four excellent entry points to the world of licorice at Minneapolis candy store Sugar Sugar.

Pontefract Cakes: Keepin' it old-school
Look and Texture: About the shape and size of a quarter—but thicker. Made since 1614, they come stamped with an image of England's Pontefract Castle, which makes an American feel terribly important while eating them. The candy is dense and chewy, more like a Swedish Fish in texture than a gummi worm.

Flavor: Pontefract Cakes are sweetened with molasses, and I definitely get more of that flavor off them than licorice/anise. It's almost like eating a gummi version of gingerbread.

Griotten: Tiny and delicious
Look and Texture: Made in Holland, Griotten look more like a cube of raw sugar than licorice candy. They're very small, light brown and coated in a layer of sugar. The texture is ... different. In a good way. Light and airy and almost a little springy, it's like eating a slightly stale—but still nom-worthy—marshmallow.

Flavor: If there ever was licorice I could eat by the bagful, this would be it. Griotten have a caramel flavor on first bite, while the not-too-pungent licorice-ness kicks in with chewing.

Dutchies: Perhaps not for the faint of heart
Look and Texture: Big, jet-black diamonds coated in sparkly sugar, Dutchies have a presence even before you start to eat them. The texture reminds me of the spice drops my father-in-law loves. (A side note: If spice drops were a person, they'd be Harvey Fierstein in very elaborate drag. Discuss.)

Flavor: Dutchies are a licorice punch in the face. A shot of ouzo in candy form. There's something very Mentholatum-ish going on here, too, as the vapors work their way into your sinuses. Your tongue gets a bit numb. I still like them, but two at a sitting is plenty. Your mileage may vary.

Koppers: Easing you in via liberal doses of chocolate
Look and Texture: Perhaps the inspiration behind Chef's Chocolate Salty Balls, Koppers are a piece of very firm, very black licorice surrounded by a layer of dark chocolate. They're about the size of a gumball.

Flavor: Can i describe something as being like a darkest pit of hell and mean it in a good way? These things are rather like Guinness in candy form. Or maybe a Guinness float. Sweet and bitter and savory all mingled together. Delicious.

Photo taken by multi-talented journalist (and my regular partner-in-crime), Leah Shaffer.


  1. Keep in mind that the black licorice found in the candy aisle at the local market is almost certainly not “real.”

    It has some flavour, but not the kick you’ll get from the real thing.

  2. Ah, nice entry point but you haven’t really had licorice until you’ve explored the Danish and Finnish varieties, especially the salt and salmiak varieties.

    1. Agreed. Salt licorice is by far my favorite. And if you are in the US, you will NEVER have to share. Everyone who I’ve offered a piece to here has spit it out. Quite an acquired taste, but once you come to appreciate it, you’ll never turn back.

      1. Every time I eat salt licorice, I think “why am I eating this? Do I actually like it?”

        But I keep buying it, so I guess that’s my answer.

    2. Oh, seconded. Danish licorice is the best. Piratos – the salty ones! The little chili ones shaped like fish whose names I can’t remember! Yes, that’s right, chili licorice. Super tasty.

  3. For some really good (non-sugar coated) licorice I suggest any of the Aussie brands. RJ’s (my favorite), Kookaburra, or Darrell Lea.

  4. I can’t say I like black licorice, but I respect it. It is the one candy that does not fuck around.

    1. True dat. It is a power sweet. Not for the timid.

      I love what the comedian Gilson Lubin said about blackl licorice in that it doesn’t taste like anything else. It just tastes like molasses and struggle.

  5. Having loved black licorice as a kid I can agree that one of the sweetest benefits of loving black licorice is that when someone asks you what you are eating and you tell them, they go away pretty quickly and your stash is well intact.

    I would have to disagree on one point: I can sit and eat as much black licorice as I can red licorice. I’m a fiend for the stuff.

    I blame my mom though. My mom loved black licorice and one day when I was a wee lad I saw it sitting at her place at the kitchen table. So I grabbed a piece and took a big bite. I was hooked. When my mom came into the kitchen and saw half her black licorice gone she began to inform me that she had red for my dad and me.

    Soon she learned to buy just as much black as red.

  6. One of the local groceries in Berkeley started carrying “zoute drop”– Netherlandish salted licorice– from the Dutch company Venco. The “salt” isn’t good ol’ NaCl, but ammonium chloride (“salmiac”), and the licorice comes in the form of little cats, beehives, or coins.
    In any shape, it’s totally addictive, and you actually could, conceivably, eat the bag at one sitting (uh, because I have). I think it not being particularly sweet is part of the attraction, at least for me.

  7. 1988: I was working for HeadStart Computers, which had recently become a division of North American Philips.

    A nice guy from the Einhoven office was assigned to keep an eye on things. As the holidays approached he brought in a gift pack of licorice. Small trays, each with a different oddly shaped bit of black licorice, plus a section of small spherical green mints as a sort of garnish.

    Employees and guests would saunter by the reception desk take one, pop it in their mouths and . . . run for their desks or the bathroom to spit it out.

    1. This is what I do to my students on a regular basis! Nice beginning examples but, as someone already said, you’ve haven’t had anything until you’ve had hardcore Scandinavian licorice.

  8. Anytime my stomach hurts,a handful does the trick in subsiding whats going on in there. (going down to the store to find some Finnish ones…)

  9. I gotta say, the only two people I’ve ever known personally who actually *liked* black licorice are my dad and Mark Frauenfelder.

  10. Want more licorice like this? Visit the Netherlands… Over here, we don’t call it “black licorice” or “real licorice”, we call it “licorice”. And we have about a million more flavours and types then the ones mentioned above, we’re total licorice nutters. My favorites are the ones with laurel.

  11. Whoops, my #8 was truncated.

    The licorice in question was the sal ammoniac flavored variety. Folks in Great Neck, Long Island were just not expecting that.

    When the office shut down I had the job of unplugging and cleaning up the desktop computers. I found, behind several desks, lightly chewed spat-out licorice bits. Folks missed the litter basket in their haste to get them out of their mouths.

  12. Found a really good no-sugar version in Jungle Jim’s up by Cincinatti. Can’t remember the name right off, but it’s a very small package.
    The actual licorice inside looks like Sen-Sen, small 1/8 inch long pieces that look exactly like broken pencil lead.

  13. A little bit of licorice root, you can buy it at an Oriental grocery and some organic food stores, is a great way to get all that licorice flavor without the sugar and other stuff. It’s a diuretic and helps settle the stomach. Just pop it in your mouth and begin to chew.

    I used to like Nibs, when you could find them, and the Panda brand sometimes seen on store shelves at Trader Joe’s and other groceries is good too.

  14. At the office I used to work at in Amsterdam, any bag of licorice was devoured within an hour. There’s no use trying to keep it to yourself in The Netherlands, most people there adore black licorice. Half the candy isle in any supermarket is filled with the stuff.

    Being Dutch myself and having eaten it for as long as I can remember, I actually can’t imagine why anyone would find the taste too strong. It’s interesting to learn that it seems to be so much of an acquired taste though.

  15. Maggie (and other readers) I’ll have to dispute your comment that licorice is an acquired taste. To the contrary, I’ve noticed that people generally either tolerant (ranging from liking to loving the stuff) or intolerant (regarding it as vile) to licorice. After years of casual inquiry, I’ve never met a person who was indifferent. I’m not saying that the “licorice-dichotomy” encompasses the whole of humanity but there does seem to be a strong natural grouping of “love vs hate” on the issue with a very small middle ground. I suspect there may be a genetic cause for licorice in/tolerance but, unfortunately, I’m not a geneticist. Anyone else want to weigh in on “the licorice dichotomy”?

    MS student, Dept of Biology
    Portland State University

  16. Salmiakki is the candy God eats.

    It tastes like getting punched in the face, but it’s addictive.

  17. People who don’t like black licorice have no soul!
    I like the Kookubura but am looking for something stronger. Thanks for this link, I’ll definitely check out the Dutchies, they sound good.

  18. Agh- Maggie, don’t eat a pound of it!! As any poor sap of a med student who has taken the standardized board exam knows (this is most excellent medical triva) acute and chronic ingestion of black licorice is actually associated with electrolyte imbalance and a “poisoning” scenario. Snack with care, my friends.

  19. There’s a place in Snoqualmie, Washington that sells black licorice ice cream. It’s unbelievably good.

    It’s green-black in color, and you have to eat it with a spoon, or have it made into a shake and drink it with a straw, because it will stain your lips a greenish color if you eat it straight off the cone.

    The place is Snoqualmie Candy Factory, and it’s right on the main street across from the railway museum. It’s a great stop if you’re passing by on I-90.

    The owner said that very few people order the black licorice flavor but they make it up regularly because those who want it get so disappointed if they’re out.

  20. I have always liked black licorice, and have at times eaten it to excess.

    Licorice is also an antiviral, and can inhibit bacterial growth, particularly in the gut, and may benefit those with upset stomachs or irritable bowel syndrome etc. (according to Wikipedia). Also according to wikipedia, it’s possible to overdose on licorice, so it should be eaten in moderation.

  21. I’m just confused as to why calling black licorice “real licorice” is nasty. Isn’t it the only “licorice” flavor that’s actually flavored with licorice?

    1. It’s a joke, based off the classic Janet Jackson lyric, “My first name ain’t baby, it’s Janet, Miss Jackson if you’re nasty.”

      1. Ah ha! Thanks, I was suspecting that I was just old and out of touch, but that confirms it!

  22. The Finnish Salmiak variety is definitely more of a punch in the face than Dutchies. Ammonium Chloride instead of NaCl gives you salty ammonia taste combined with the strongest black licorice taste possible. For a real treat, try Salmiakki Vodka, which is infused with the salty, licorice goodness.

  23. A dutch guy I worked with gave me a bag of licorice his mother sent him from Holland. The bag was mostly salted black licorice but in the bag were a small handful of these little honey bee chewy things – they were AWESOME. I’ve looked for them but never seen them available anywhere.

  24. The only thing more delicious than black liquorice is salty black liquorice, as people have pointed out.

    I’m not sure if Ikeas in the US have it (or if there’s even a food bit in US Ikeas, come to think of it) but that’s my main ‘dealer’ in the UK. Now to persuade someone I know that they desperately need furniture…

  25. You missed the part where black licorice is on William Li’s “eat to starve cancer” diet.

  26. I once asked my mother why Easter baskets never contained black jellybeans, which were my favorite. She said the Easter Bunny only brought candies that were pretty, cheerful, springy colors. Black jellybeans were too depressing for Easter.

    Of course what was really happening was she picked them all out and ate them herself. You can imagine the repercussions: my mother a liar, the Easter bunny a fraud. She claimed later that it never even occurred to her that a little kid would like black jellybeans.

  27. Must be a ‘dad’ thing cause my dad loves it. I’d be willing to try any of the ones Maggie listed above, but I’ll say at the start, I hate Good-n-Plenty’s. Don’t know if they’re “real” licorice or not.

  28. Black liquorish sets one up for a predisposition to Absinthe, a delicious and powerful spirit. This could also be done in reverse: Absinthe setting one up for a predisposition to black liquorish. Never too late to start either.

    1. Absinthe is certainly “liquorish,” I’ll give you that! But the flavorings are green anise, fennel, and wormwood (primarily, among other things). Still, it’s possible that if you like the one, you’ll like the other.

      1. Licorice, anise and fennel get their distinctive flavor from the same chemical.

  29. My mother dislikes licorice. She says that this is because as a child that was about the only kind of candy available in the sugar deprived war years, and she grew very tired of it.

    Put me down in the “I’m not sure what it is, but it isn’t licorice” club when it comes to red licorice.

  30. As a Dutchy were licorice (drop) is incredibly popular I can say that eating a whole bag is no exception to the norm any more then a bag of m&m’s is.
    Also Im with the crowd salmiak and salty licorice is the best although I also love schoolkrijt (schoolchalk) which is with peppermint

  31. My favorite must be ‘Heksenheyl’ (it roughly translates to ‘witches bliss’).

    They are hollow 2 cm long licorice tubes covered with either fine grained sugar or salt and filled with a salmiak paste.

    Put a bag of that in front of me and I won’t stop stuffing my face with it untill it’s all gone.

  32. MMmmm, Salty Licorice
    I can almost feel the backs of my jaws going into salty spasms at the thought of it.

    it’s been a long time, I need some now

  33. I like my candy to taste like candy. When I feel like tasting medicine, I eat a whole bunch of medicine.

    Pardon me, the owls are telling me to prepare the book clamps before it’s yesterday.

  34. Black licorice is the best, for all the reasons noted above. But silly me, I went and shared with my dogs. Once. Now, they smell it come into the house and won’t leave me alone when I eat it.

    Black licorice ice cream? Might be worth making a cross-continent trip for…

  35. this gave me a massive craving for (good) black licorice, but there’s nowhere to get any nearby. damn.

  36. i have to wholeheartedly agree with those who dig the salted variety.

    i keep a bag of venco dubbelzout (double salted) in my desk. i have a couple pieces a day (you don’t need more than that).

    at first, my colleagues thought i was off my rocker, but now several of my staff will come and brave the salty licorice goodness.

    i’ve heard that double salt was an aquired taste, but i loved it from first bite.

  37. I like to always keep a bottle of licorice vodka in the fridge. Koskenkorva Salmiakki, or home made with Turkish Pepper. Just let lots of it dissolve in vodka for about 24 hours, served very chilled.

  38. I can tolerate black licorice, but prefer red, especially Twizzlers cherry.

    What I really miss, but can’t seem to find anymore are those long strings of purple “licorice” that I used to get at the local amusement park back in the late sixties and early seventies. What happened to the stuff?

  39. I love the venco salmiak and mint drop, but it’s addictive and I get scared of what it must be doing to my blood pressure as I pop one after another.

  40. OK you licorice nerds…

    Find an Italian specialty store and get a small tin of Amarelli Spezzata. Tiny little drops of pure licorice … crunchy texture and NO sugar or salt.

    The licorice experience is intense. A small box should last several years.

  41. i’ve noticed that those who like black licorice also tend to like black coffee, dark beer, well done steaks, blackened catfish…

    black: it just fucking tastes gooooooood.

    1. I must be the exception to that rule because I like light and sweet coffee, light beer… (OK I do like blackened catfish.) But I LOVE me some black licorice.

  42. My company is (in)famous for providing Finnish “salmiakkikossu” (black vodka) at software conferences.

    While you can buy it pre-mixed in Finland, we dissolve Danish salmiak (salty, ammonium-chloride laced black licorice hard candies) in vodka. You can purchase Tyrkisk Peber in the States. These are the candies we use, and you should dissolve one bag per 750ml of vodka. Let sit for a few hours until all the candies are dissolved, put in the freezer for a few hours until chilled nicely, and drink.

    Don’t buy cheap, nasty vodka, but also don’t use Grey Goose. The taste of the vodka will be completely subsumed by the taste of the salmiak. The end result is a drink that only tastes of licorice, but is 80 proof. Good times.

  43. oh, and when i quit smoking, i used to chew on licorice root. the pure source. yummy little twigs!

  44. People say that black licorice is an acquired taste, but all I’m seeing are comments from people who liked it from the first bite. Has anyone here actually acquired the taste – started out hating it and ended up loving it? If so, how did you manage to acquire it?

    1. I started out DESPISING black licorice, but have come to slightly enjoy it. Whenever I stop into an Indian restaurant, I always grab a pinch of that seedy mix on the counter before I leave. I was fortunate enough to find a curry restaurant about 30 minutes from my place here in rural Japan that I can get my licorice fix at for the cost of a spicy bowl of deliciousness! What’s that stuff called at the counter, by the way?

  45. I was introduced to salted licorice when I was in Sweden. It took me aback at first, but I soon developed a taste for it. Nom nom nom.

    Also in Sweden, I was introduced to licorice ice cream – not as described above, but as more of a bar-type treat, with vanilla ice cream surrounding a licorice-flavored center with the texture of chocolate. Regrettably I have never found anything similar in the States, because that was one of the best things I have ever eaten in my entire life.

    The lesson from all this being, Sweden rocks.

      1. Well, partially – as I recall it looked a lot more like the ice cream called “nogger mint” but black, and it had that same solid core, wasn’t striped as the licorice one depicted.

        Still I bet that’s tasty

  46. Black licorice ice cream is one of my holy grails of sweets, which I’ve encountered twice:

    1. Actual black-colored version, at a 33 flavors shop in Jantzen Beach Center, Portland…somewhere between 1982-1984.

    2. A light gray version, at Marianne’s ice cream on Ocean St. in Santa Cruz. They may still occasionally offer it.

    I *love* being the recipient of unwanted licorice jelly beans, too.

  47. YES. Black Licorice IS awesome. I don’t even know who got it in their minds to call so-called “red licorice,” well, Licorice.

    Currently, my favorite commercial-grade (ie, light and sweet) black licorice is the Trader Joe’s brand, Scottie Dogs.

    As for comment #20, I do believe Ms. Koerth-Baker was going for a Janet “Ms. Jackson if you’re nasty” allusion.

    Now I’m off to the local apothecary to find some panda licorice. Mm.

  48. For those of you in the US or Canada, that are looking for some Dutch licorice, I think you can order some through this site:

  49. Wow. I frickin’ LOVE authentic black licorice, and yet have never tried the Dutch variety. I had a Norwegian roommate in college who used to bring back the salty Norwegian kinds. SO yummy! I also like the “old fashioned” Australian kind that Trader Joe’s sells.

    Black Licorice = FTW!!!

  50. From my childhood: Callard and Bowser’s Licorice Toffee. The heady savor of licorice with the slightly debauched richness of toffee. No longer made, and the world is a lesser place for it.

    Licorice provides, to initiates, a flavor experience without any equal in the food world, in the same way that oysters do.

  51. BTW, a post further up talks about the ‘Up to date candy teacher’, in which a recipe for black licorice candy called for “…powder charcoal…” dissolved with a little water for a heavy paste (for color), powder licorice, and anise oil.

    Powder charcoal? Artist’s? Briquettes? Wonder what chemicals have replaced that in our beloved black treat these days.

  52. FYI Sugar Sugar also has single salt and double salt varieties along with buttons, honey bee, school chalk, and mounties (kind of a high class Snap) in addition to other licorices. Most are Dutch or Finnish with the exception of the Pontefract Cakes, and Haribo wheels. All in all about 12 licorices are in stock at any given time.

  53. The real salmiac from Finland

    Apothecarys Salmiac

    Wheat flour
    Liquorice extract
    Ammonium chloride
    Color (carbo activatus, or basically just charcoal)

    Or if you prefer your salmiac in liquid form

    Salmiakkikoskenkorva (or Salmiac vodka)

  54. I liked the Guinness comparison. About 17 or 18 years ago, I tried a tiny bottle of Samiclaus, which is a Swiss beer bottled on St. Nicholas day and and aged for at least a year. The one I had was possibly a year older than that. It definately had some liquorice-like qualities in the aftertaste. I really enjoyed it. I haven’t had any heavy duty black licorice for a long time. The strong flavor and lack of sweetness always reminds me of something from an earlier time. Someone should make it in gear shapes for the Steampunk crowd.

  55. I should take a picture of the “drop”isle in the supermarket here in the netherlands, its bigger than our cerial isle :)

  56. I am a total lakritz junkie …but as #30 pointed out so nicely .. if you have an issue with high blood pressure, then you should take it easy … (darn … no fun left, now they even took my candy)

    Here in Italy you can buy ‘pure’ licorice … and flavored spirits .. but no real good candy ..

  57. The honeymoon was over the night that I threw up that bottle of Arak. Do you know how hard it is to get a fifth of licorice hurl out of waist-length hair?

  58. Anyone have a recipe or technique for making licorice? I’ve casually snooped around a bit but have always come up dry. It can’t be any harder than other candies to make, it’s just that I don’t know where to begin to get the right texture (and there is a huge variety of textures out there).

  59. OK, I’ll weigh in on the side of the haters. Well, not really…personally, I can’t stand it. About the only benefit I can get from black licorice is that putting any in my mouth will make me vomit. Good to have in case I’ve been poisoned, but honestly I’d have to think about it for a bit.

    But I understand the allure. Really, I do. There are lots of things I like that aren’t conventionally regarded as delicious, but that’s fine with me. I definitely agree with the other commenters here that you should get the good stuff and savor it. I just can’t get it past my mouth.

  60. Army Navy Tablets – a hard boiled sweet from the UK are fabulous – liquorice and lots of other strange flavours. Good luck finding them outside the Mother Country though.

  61. Gack.

    To quote from the old “National Lampoon”: “Licorice is the liver of candy.”

    Must have read that 30+ years ago, but it stays with one — just like the imperishable vileness of licorice, should one eat some by accident.

  62. It was Michael O’Donoghue who said that about licorice. It’s in the National Lampoon Encyclopedia of Humor. I agree with it, because I love liver too.

    Used to love Nibs and licorice twists and those bars… I’ve forgotten their names. None of them taste like much to me now, almost like plastic with some echo of flavor remaining. It’s the hard stuff for me, that you mostly find at bulk cand shops on large malls.

    Licorice pastels. Licorice dollars. Licorice hives. All wonderful (especially the pastels, but only if they’re the right ones — too complex to go into that now). Flicks, in moderation.

    Licorice jellies, Good ‘n’ Plenty… naaah. Pusillanimous, sticky, and insufficiently flavorful.

    Here’s my current favorite: Haribo Licorice Wheels. A firm, yet not hard chew when they’re fresh, and the molasses note in the flavor is quite strong. Bite into them, or unwind them and separate the strands. My grocer had them in Virginia. Luckily, there’s one store here in my area of western NY that has them in bulk.

    Anything red is licorice shaped, just like gummi rats are rat shaped, and like gummi rats, any real licorice in them is not intentional.

  63. This has been my go-to source for licorice acquisition: []Licorice International[/url]

  64. There’s nothing quite as fine as a strong zoute drop… I fondly recall this cylindrical candy, very light salt on the outside with a very strong licorice flavour, quite tame… until I got to the centre, which was the strongest flavour burst I’ve ever experienced. The first time around I almost spit the thing out, but the second time… delicious.

    The only thing worse/better is some of the spicy Mexican candies, but that’s a whole other world.

    1. I second that about See’s. I used to pick up a bag of it on the way to the movies when I lived in San Diego. I still have dreams about it. Delicious.

  65. My solution for not eating too much RED licorice is kind of gross — chew, chew, chew until you have a ball of licorice in your mouth, and then skip the swallowing step. Hawk it into trash barrel.

    The fun of licorice to me is the taste and the chewing — but there’s no reason to actually eat it, especially with the wheat and high fructose corn syrup making it bad for you.

  66. I will be the one to point out that it’s Girotten and not Griotten, aka Girotjes.

    Over here (in the Netherlands) you will definitely have to share your licorice with all and sundry. I never buy it because I can and will devour the whole bag in one go.

    My favourites are honey licorice (round and brownish with a honeycomb pattern), Kokindjes (sweet and soft drops) and the aforementioned Girotten. But in a pinch any will do. I don’t like pure salmiak though.

  67. maggie, if you are looking for the very tasty salty licorice that people have swooned about(rightly) on here, look no further than the Scandanavian place at the Midtown Global Market. Soooo, good. I may stop by and get some for myself tomorrow.

  68. I love black licorice and the anise flavour. I drink a tea called Black Adder, which has the anise flavouring and the best part is that while it’s unsweetened it still tastes sweet. For those in the US Aveda sells a tea that has anise flavouring as well, which I remember being good, but it’s been a while since I’ve had it. In addition, I’ve found a fantastic licorice/chocolate candy which is fantastic with red wine. (Of course you wouldn’t serve it in a formal occassion that way, but on a laid back night at home – it’s a good indulgence.)

  69. If you don’t like the black stuff but want to read more reviews, you can see interesting stuff at

    The guy has been sent a box of Finnish products, all of which contain some measure of licorice and/or salmiac.

  70. When I was a very small child (in New Jersey in the mid-1960s), I bought a licorice stick at a drugstore. It was hard and salty and came in a cardboard box (orange, I recall), and its shape was similar to the Bassetti licorice stick available in the UK. Except the Bassetti sticks appear to be glossy and slightly brownish, and I remember this being matte black.

    I’ve never been able to find it again. Nobody’s ever heard of such a thing. It’s a little like if people kept telling Marcel Proust that there’s no such thing as madeleines.

    1. I had the same experience with the licorice stick in the bright orange box. I also got it from the corner drug store. As I remember it had a strong unsweetened licorice flavor and was too hard to chew, although as I remember it had sections that could be broken off kind of like a very hard tootsie roll but much longer.

  71. For any gastronomical dare-devils from abroad, the Dutch “Dubbelzout” (meaning “doubly salty”) licorice is probably the most challenging of all types. As its name suggests it is about as salty as seawater, but with a sweet salmiac flavor in the background; all packed in a little bar the size of a small button cell.

    My Australian girlfriend tried it once and solemnly sweared never to eat licorice again.

  72. I beg to differ with #79. I grew up in Holland, and it was always called zoute griotten of griotjes.
    I remember going to the corner tobacco store to buy licorice root or a small pointed bag filled with double salty (dubbelzout) licorice. As kids we also loved licorice powder that you sprinkled on the palm of your hand and licked. You could give us any kind of licorice, whatever shape or form, sweet or salty, and we would demolish it, no matter how big the bag. I still have to have my fix once in a while and order licorice from a Dutch import company.

  73. So,…

    The key advantages of licorice are-

    It’s gross. So you won’t eat too much. And you’ll have plenty, because no one will want any. Because it’s gross.

    Hmm. Sounds like a winner.

  74. @ Anon #55, I had the black version of the ice cream in Snoqualmie 2 years ago.

    @ 2hirondelles, call first to make sure they have it. But it is definitely worth the trip.

  75. Black licorice (or “real licorice”, if you’re nasty) is, like many of those old-timey candies from the days before high-fructose corn syrup, something of an acquired taste—an acquired taste I’d highly recommend acquiring.

    I’m not sure I understand it. You probably won’t like it, but if you eat enough you’ll get used to it, and eventually decide you do like it? It seems like that would be true of anything not poisonous, and since you presumably don’t like them now, what determines which ones are worth going for?

  76. Not many people will ask for you candy, true.
    Not many more will enjoy kissing you either. :D

    Black licorice also does wonders on teeth. Since there is no real color that is black, most licorice true color is a yellowish green: yummy!

    BTW, I love the stuff.

  77. Spice candies do seem to have gone out of fashion. Mint seems to be the main exception, though one can quibble about whether mints are spices or herbs.

    That reminds me, I should go harvest some of my neighbor’s mint. (I’ve got a standing invitation to take as much as I like, since she considers it mostly an invasive weed.)

  78. And if you are near Santa Cruz, CA, you will find a good selection of licorice at Mariani Candies. I prefer their Pacific Ave. location.

    Their soft licorice “gumdrops” are addictive. But you may prefer one of the other 10 or so varieties.

    They also have salt licorice, which is not to my taste.


    At your local liquor store, if you like your licorice with alcohol, buy some “Black Romano.”

  79. Some evidence exists that licorice can lower serum testosterone levels (and therefore libido), so be careful when you eat it!

  80. I read this article as “you probably hate it, but you should learn to like it because it’s good to like things that you don’t like”

    1. You should continue to hate it, because that way there’s more for us. And we need more. I can easily go through a pound of the stuff (500g not your wimpy imperial pounds) in one sitting.

  81. Can I recommend imps? Small and intense. Don’t know if you can get them in the States. Used to be dished out wholesale by choirmasters, but now there are rules about that sort of thing. Slightly off topic, but worthy of consideration by those interested in the more obscure British sweet world are Victory Vs – the only sweet I know that contains Ether. If ever there was a steam punk confection, this is it.

  82. I love good soft licorice, but I draw the line at the ammoniated stuff (and yes I’ve tried it. Ate half a bag over a two week period).

    As a devotee of Dave’s Insanity Sauce, single malt scotch, and 1930’s western swing, I believe my life list of acquired tastes is close to completion.

  83. Dutch salt liquorice is not candy. It’s Dutch salt liquorice. It’s the one of the few things (with for van Leeuwenhoek and Huygens) that inspires my national pride as a Dutchman! :D Although Scandinavian liquorice is great, too.

  84. Somebody might already pitched this one but in Holland we also have a alcoholic substance called ‘dropshot’ which basicly means ‘licorice-shot’ and is actually quite tasty although you tend to overconsume which will make you regret afterwards.

    More traditionally, I like licorice ‘cash’, sweet licorice in the shape of coins.

  85. I can’t stop thinking about licorice.

    Licorice teas — Yogi Teas makes a Licorice and Peppermint tea, and Stash makes a Licorice Spice tea – both of these have other flavors as well as the licorice and mint. Alvita Teas makes a plain Licorice Root tea that is pretty good. Choice Organic makes a Liquorice Peppermint tea that is absolutely my favorite. A lot of people say it is just like the US Aveda tea, but I think it is way better.

    Licorice Ramzy: — I love it because it says on the English side of the box “USEFULL REFRESHING DELICIOUS” – I used to buy it at Bill’s Imported Foods in Minneapolis, but I don’t live there anymore, alas. Looks like it’s available online, though. It comes as instant packet type thingys and also as more of a loose tea-type stuff that you steep and then filter out. It’s satisfyingly black, also, which alarms guests and generally discourages co-workers from taking it out of the office fridge.

    Is Bill’s Imported Foods still there? On Lake Street?

    Also: These delicious Lakrits candies — sometimes labeled ‘licorice dark chocolate lentils’ – they are essentially black m&ms. Used to find a similar candy made by the same swedish outfit that makes Peps. They are shaped like, um, lentils. Dark chocolate and licorice is a surprisingly good combination.

    And does anyone else remember those black cough drops? Luden’s Honey Licorice?

  86. Love licorice. Have tried Danish salty licorice, and didn’t care for the version that was not sugar coated. Sugar-coated, salted licorice is amazing.
    I have also had something from Australia that I consider the best of both worlds in terms of my favorite flavors. Licorice coated with black-currant flavored hard candy. One flavor melds with, then transforms into the other. Heaven. Don’t recall what they were–but was very thankful my brother gave me some after he visited Australia.

  87. My favorite brands are the Kookaburra and the stuff they sell at the big candy store in harvard square, cambridge which the name of escapes me right now.

    The dutch stuff is hella nasty to me and I am – in name anyway – dutchish.

    WHole Foods has a decent kind but I only get it in a pinch.

    I could eat this stuff, by the pound, all day long. Consider yourself warned, Whole Foods.

  88. Oh man, CORRECT RE: Spice drops, except he would also be a fairy (Human sized though), think wings and a tiara.

  89. Lulu Rae’s in Berkeley closed recently. It had French, Italian and, of course, assorted Dutch and Scandinavian licorice. My next step is to order from this company:

    I bought a candy science kit from Thames & Kosmos because one of its recipes was black licorice. Didn’t work out very well, but I’m still in pursuit.

  90. If you can’t find real licorice in your community, I suggest going to the Licorice International website You can find over 160 varieties from 14 different countries. My favorites are Kookaburra (from Australia), Black Tire Tread (from Finalnd) and Kokindjes (from Holland)

  91. I’m in the salted licorice camp. This is TRULY an acquired taste. My favorite is German or Finnish salted licorice.

  92. @ Comment 53: It is an acquired taste. A friend gave me a Halva Salmiakki drop in Germany, and I couldn’t get down the hall fast enough to spit it into the kitchen sink and rinse with 5l of water. But, never one to not try to impress cute Finnish girls, I tried another one a week later and it went down better. Now, I keep a box of Halva at my desk, and last time I hung out with that friend, we spent the weekend driving around, eating handfuls of salmiakki.

    @ Everyone else, you are right. You can always feel righteous about offering your American friends some licorice and feel comforted knowing NO ONE will ever take you up on the offer.

  93. Denmark singing in. Dutch licorice is fine for your average beginners but you ain’t had nothing likt the stuff we got up here.

    My favorite is “Blue Jeans”. A classic from back when Danes got their first pair of jeans.

    “Polet” is also awesome, it’s stronger but kickass.

    The real badboy is “Super Piratos”. Every American that I have fed with this have after 4 seconds giving me a look like ‘Why are you hurting me, I thought we were friends’. It’s awesome.

  94. I got hooked on Amarelli’s Spezzati while in Italy. Lozenges of pure liquorice, some with a touch of mint, anice, or nothing but liquirizia. A sack of 100 g. lasted me almost a month. You could roll those ones in your mouth for half an hour, and they kept me from getting a sore throat and the flu in winter.

    True enough, we DO like black stuff. I did also get hooked on Neapolitan espresso, which is the blackest, and the strongest of all the espressos you can get in Italy. My wife hates both and threatened me with no kisses over them.

    Did I mention the complimentary and very black, chilled “liquirizia” liquor, that is offered along with a choice of limoncello and finocchietto (fennel liquor, yes, Italians will make digestives out of everything) after a good meal?

  95. i just wanted to add my 2c in.

    Venco ‘dubbel zout’ drops are simply the best little candies you can possibly buy. its not healthy to eat the whole bag but damn have i done it before.

    as for the taste debate, when i introduced them into my circle of friends, none of them liked it.
    one day under the influence of drugs 2 of them started enjoying it and could eat them like i could (who grew up in a family of dutch liqourish(sp) eaters) and now they love the stuff too.

  96. HOw about the scotty dogs at trader joe’s – I don’t know if they’re really licorice or not, but I like em. I don’t like the panda because they taste too floury to me.

    And, yes, I liked them from early childhood – everyone liked to sit next to me because I only liked the black jelly beans, and gave way all the rest. I also only ate the cake and gave away my icing. But I don’t care for coffee (of any kind, black or not) nor do I like beer of any sort. I do like my tea unsweetened and very strong, though.

  97. not seeing it listed here

    sherbet fountain:

    This looks like a small stick of dynamite, but is a actually stick of liquorice packed in a tube of sherbet – a powder which is a mix of sodium bicarbonate, citric acid, tartaric acid and sugar.
    The combination of flavours – salty, sweet and liquorice, along with the foaming mouth feel of the sherbet has made this a staple for UK kids of all ages since it was introduced in 1925.

    The fans of this confection are divided into two camps

    the biters: they leave the liquorice in it’s powdery nest, bite off the top of the liquorice which is hollow, through which they suck up the sherbet (how it was envisioned it would be eaten in it’s conception).

    the dippers: they pull the liquorice all the way out and moisten, dip and suck one end till the sherbet is gone then re dip.

  98. I failed to mention that the taste of ‘black’ isn’t limited to licorice. Last night, my host family treated me to a black sponge cake roll filled with grass green cream. Flavors: Burnt bamboo/charcoal (ha!) and green tea. What a treat! And if you think black licorice is an acquired enjoyment, you should try natto. That’s fermented soy beans that have the texture of chunky snot. I had some for lunch yesterday. …slurp, slurp ;P

  99. Try ‘real’ licorice. Are you of northern european ancestry? The people I have run into who adore it seem to have a NE salmiakk-lovin gene… check out your World Market, they usually have a few salty varieties like salt ‘herring’ fish-shaped licorice. has an impressive picture gallery of imported licorice classified by sweet, light salt, medium salt, & very salty. Also check out the chocolate hagelslag (sprinkles) which are awesome on buttered toast.

  100. I am not a Black Liquorice expert, but I know what I like and that is the old liquorice flavor, I have sent more Black Liquorice back to the manufacturers than I have found good stuff to keep and enjoy, it’s a real shame, I have been told that they make it mild because their customers like it that way. I say then call it black candy, but not Black Liquorice because it isn’t.

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