Mexican candies are not just popular in Mexico, they are popular all around the globe. What makes them unique is that they have a unique flavor profile which involves a combination of sweet + sour + salty + spicy. They are quite different from most candy which is just sweet, and kids and adults love these flavor combinations!
Read on for more about what makes the flavors unique and also to learn about our favorite Mexican Candies.
The Unique Flavors in Mexican Candies
Mexico is a quite diverse country and its cuisine – and candy – have been influenced by a cultural mixture going back to pre-Columbian traditions. Here are a few of the flavors that are prominent in Mexican candy.
Chocolate actually originated in Mexico and has a 4,000 year history! The first cacao plants were found in ancient Mesoamerica (which is present day Mexico). The Olmec were the first to turn cocao into chocolate and they drank their chocolate during religious ceremonies/rituals and also used it as medicine.
In later centuries, the Mayans praised chocolate and said it was the “drink of the gods.” Mayan chocolate was a very revered drink that consisted of ground cacao seeds mixed with chillies plus water and cornmeal. The mayans would pour this mixture from one pot to another (no blenders back then!) which created a thick and foamy beverage they called xocolati (“bitter water”).
Cocoa was such a prized and rare commodity that by the 15th century, the Aztecs started using it as currency. They also believed that chocolate was a gift from the god Quetzalcoatl. And they used it as a enjoyable drink, to prepare for war and even as an aphrodisiac. Over time, the Spanish conquistadores brought sugar to Mexico and that made sweet chocolate possible.
In current Mexican cuisine, you will find chocolate in sweet and also in savory Mexican dishes like mole.
Tamarind fruit is produced from the fruit of the tamarind tree. Mexican tamarind candy is also known as Mexican Tamarindo candy. One of the most common flavor combinations is to put tamarind together with chili powder. It makes for a hot + sweet flavor that many people enjoy and associate most strongly with Mexican candies.
Everyone knows how hot chili peppers are. It is the ingredient that is often behind the heat and spice in Mexican candies. Chile peppers have a long history in Mexican regional cuisine. In the candies below you will find all sorts of candies that are covered in a combo of spicy and salty chili powder – including hard candies, jelly candies and lollipops too.
The peanut is a frequent staple in sweet and savory foods across many different regions in Mexico. Its history is long, dating back to Mesoamerican traditions. In Spanish it is often referred to as “cacahuate” or “cacahuete” (derived from Nahuatl).
In candy, it is often seen in the Mexican version of Marzipan which is called Mazapan which is made with peanuts instead of the traditional almonds we associate with Marzipan.
Our Favorite Mexican Candies and Treats
These are the ones we love the most:
De la Rosa Peanut Mazapan
If you like traditional marzipan which is typically made with almonds you will probably love this one too. De la Rosa’s version is made with crushed peanuts so it has a delicious slightly gritty texture. What makes this treat unique is that it comes as individually wrapped cookies so you can buy a box and enjoy them for many months.
Obleas Mini Wafers
These are actually very popular cookies that are made with goat milk candy. They have a creamy center that is similar to caramel. So if you like a wafer and also like gooey centers, you should check this one out!
This candy is basically a marshmallow covered in chocolate on a stick with a cute smiley face on the outside of the chocolate. We have yet to meet a kid that does not love these! And of course similar to American tootsie pops.
This candy is literally just salt and lime. It is quite sour…so if you love sour, its probably the sourest Mexican candy you can find.
If you are looking for a non-candy treat, Duvalin is a sweet gooey snack that you eat with a spoon. It is basically a very sweet pudding.
Mini Jumbo Cereza Lollipop
Cereza means cherry in Spanish. These are basically sweet cherry lollipops with a center made of chewing gum. Sort of like a Charms Blow Pop, but Mexican style.
Pelon Pelo Rico
This is a sweet-and-sour tamarind candy in a fun package. You push the plastic down and pelo (hair) grow from the top. And then you get to lick and eat the candy!
Kids love it because it is so fun and silly.
This is another tamarind candy but it is spicy. It comes as a package of individually wrapped candies so it is easier to take anywhere you go.
Mexican Candy – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the Hottest and Most Popular Mexican candy?
There are many spicy Mexican candies that have chili powder in them. The most popular candy is probably Rosa’s Pulparindo. It’s a unique flavor that is made from fruity tamarind pup that is covered with sugar, salt and chili pepper to give it a unique combination of sweet, salt and spice.
Why is Mexican candy the best?
Mexico has sweet candies, but what really makes them unique is that the most popular ones are spicy, sweet and salty. This gives them a very unique and distinguished flavor profile. Many also contain Tamarind which is a fruit extract – its zesty flavor goes well with the spicy, salty and sweet combination, even if you add chocolate to the mix too.
What are some Mexican Candy Names?
There are many popular Mexican candy brands including: Vero, Pelon Pelo Rico, Limon 7 Lucas, De La Rosa, Duvalin, Canel’s, Ricolino and Pulparindo.
What is Traditional Mexican Candy?
The majority of Mexican candies contain tamarind, which has a unique sweet and sour taste. The Most popular Mexican candy brands include: Vero Lollipops, Lucas crazy hair & salsagheti strips, Pulparindo tamarind pulp candy, Lorena Pelon Pelo Rico, Pica Gomas, & Dulces Tama-Roca.
Video: Beginner’s Guide to Mexican Candy
LA Times Food Columnist Lucas Kwan Peterson enlists a panel of colleagues to explore the world of Mexican candy. Columnist Gustavo Arellano, Metro reporter Brittny Mejia, and video journalist, Cody Long all try candies both familiar and unknown and react to find their favorites.