The Candy Review: Co-operative Liquorice Allsorts, A Traditional Yorkshire Sweet
Are you a liquorice lover, a lover of liquorice, an addict of the sickeningly sweet root? It’s one of those foods, rather like the celebrated case of Marmite, that simply divide the nation. Love it or hate it, it seems as if there’s no ground in between upon which you can tread.
Personally, in childhood I used to absolutely detest the bitter black stuff. The bitterness was the problem. All the brands and types of liquorice available back then seemed to be mouth-puckeringly grim and bitter, in contrast to their sugary complements, such that I couldn’t conceive or understand anyone eating the nasty stuff for pleasure! And then there was the natural liquorice root, sold out of huge jars as a sweet. As a sweet, I ask you. Chewing on an old twig, and a nasty artificial sweetener tasting old twig at that. It’s like giving a kid a lump of coal for Christmas. I understand some folks like the stuff. There’s something wrong with a lot of folks.
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On the other hand, once ‘gourmet’ and ‘organic’ liquorice started showing up on health food store and supermarket shelves, I decided to give it another chance to win my heart. I like to keep an open mind! Plus I’d read about all sorts of alleged health and nutritional benefits to the stuff, so what the hell… Given a fair trial, I was surprised to find that…. Well, it would have been an exaggeration to say I exactly liked the stuff. I still found it startlingly spicy, weirdly savoury for a sweet, and it does leave your teeth grey, a startling side-effect if you forget you’ve been eating it when you look in the mirror.
And yet I found myself curiously addicted to the stuff. The quality liquorice is a whole different animal to the cheap and bitter stuff churned out in great quantitiy: sweeter, smoother, tangy, a whole different experience. Once a packet was open I just couldn’t leave it alone! But the quality stuff is pricey: how do the better supermarket brands shape up against it? In fact, how about Co-operative Liquorice Allsorts: are they an acceptable substitute for the high-end stuff?
Having given them a go, I’d describe this brand as certainly a step up from the absolute bargain basement stuff that litters up little old sweetshops. (Naming no brands!) It’s certainly distinctly recognisable from the organic luxury stuff, but it does qualify as a tasty substitute if you’re currently on a bit of a tight budget but can’t give up your addiction to the sweet root.
And it comes at a price that can’t be sneezed at: just a quid, for three different – or indeed the same - bags of traditional sweeties. How can you refuse?