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Americans Don’t Appreciate Good Candy

Photo: victoriaashman/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Candy is top of mind for me much of the time, though rarely more so than during Valentine’s Day season. (Except Halloween.) (And Christmas.) Holiday seasons are nice because candy companies are encouraged to think outside the box, so to speak, and offer new and interesting variations, like Reese’s pumpkins, or Reese’s trees. But as I must commend American candy purveyors for what they do right, I must also condemn them for what they do wrong, which is fail to provide the best candy on Earth: the fondant-filled licorice tube.

If you don’t know what this is, I can’t blame you, because I didn’t know what it was until I first visited Europe in college. Across the street from my host señora’s house there was a little store that sold soda, chips, cigarettes, and candy, but not candy like you’d find at a bodega here — not wrapped bars of chocolate coating various fillings (though they had those too). I mean candy like gummy candy, kid candy, in every color and shape imaginable.

It was there that I first met the fondant-filled licorice tube, though I did not know they were called that at the time, and I’m actually still not sure they are. (Sometimes the internet calls them “Tuberoos,” a name I do not care for.) I tried them because they were strange-looking, and then I kept buying them because they were the best candy I had ever tasted.

Europe seems to love the stuff — it’s easy to find in Amsterdam and France. In general, I’ve found, Europe appreciates sweets more than we do, innovating where we have gotten complacent. The fondant-filled licorice tube takes two polarizing foods (I’m pro both) and unites them into one perfect item. Everyone on baking shows is always going on about how bad fondant is, but it’s white sugar paste, and I can’t understand what’s wrong with that. Throw some licorice around it, maybe dust it in sour sugar, and I’ll eat it until I’m sick. Sometimes they are short and bite-sized, and sometimes they’re a foot long, and kind of floppy, and you’ll have to work on it for like a week, like a project. Sometimes the fondant is dyed or flavored but more often it’s the licorice that changes: I’ve had red, yes, but also blue, green, and rainbow-striped.

I could try to describe what’s so good about this stuff to you, and I will — it’s something about the two textures, I think, the gummy as it meets the almost-marshmallow fondant when you bite through it — but if you live in the United States, there is little you can do with this information. You can find it online, or at specialty European candy stores like Sockerbit, but that’s about it, which is too bad, because it’s the best candy in the world.

Americans Don’t Appreciate Good Candy