I’ve been of a mind to do a series of snack reviews here on the blog for two main reasons: I need stuff to write about, and more importantly, I love snacks – especially candy. Of course, it wouldn’t make much sense to review common snacks like Doritos or Snickers bars since pretty much everybody with a steady body temperature knows what those taste like. So instead, I’m seeking out some less well-known snacks; and since the owner of the local gas station I frequent has decided to stock an entire section of candy straight from Mexico, that’s where we’ll begin.
El Azteca Palanqueta de Cacahuate, or as the translation so helpfully puts it: “Peanuts Patty.” This is basically peanut brittle, although the caramelized sugar that holds the peanuts together has a richer, more toasted favor to it than most American peanut brittle which I found to be rather tasty. It wasn’t quite as crisp as a piece of peanut brittle, though, and it could have used that little extra crunch. I’m not the biggest fan of peanut brittle, but this wasn’t bad at all, although the large disk shape makes for awkward eating – biting it means picking up four hundred thousand sticky peanuts off your shirt, while breaking it up in the package means picking those same peanuts up off the floor as soon as you open it.
Skwinkles Clasicos – This was my favorite out of all the candy I tried. The ones pictured above are “chamoy” flavor (a flavor derived from pickled fruit) – but in this case the flavor was the classic “red” flavor – not quite cherry, not really strawberry, just “red.” In appearance, the Skwinkles look like sour punch straws, but on closer inspection flecks of what look like red pepper can be detected – which is exactly what’s going on here: a sour punch straw with a kick of chili heat to match the sweet/tart flavor of the candy. These have earned a permanent spot in my candy repertoire.
Mazapan Azteca, or as I like to call it, “vaguely peanut flavored sadness.” I’m still not quite sure what to make of this candy. The texture is soft, crumbly, and for lack of a better word, dusty. To put it another way, Mazapan Azteca is like eating peanut butter dirt. I dug around on YouTube and found a commercial for this stuff – there’s a kid at the end who takes a big bite of candy and says “Mmm! Me gusta!” That kid is obviously insane. Give this stuff out for Halloween only if you have an insurance policy that pays double if your house is firebombed by angry kids in Star Wars costumes.
Lucas Gusano Hot Liquid Candy – And here I’ve saved the strangest for last. I’m not even sure what to say about these bottles of liquid candy. I’m not even sure that they are candy, despite the bottle’s assurances. I purchased two flavors of Lucas Gusano Hot Liquid Candy, chamoy (which worked out so well with the Skwinkles) and tamarind, a flavor based on a type of date. And the taste? Salty, slightly spicy, sweet, sour – sort of like drinking the tears of a diabetic Satan. This tastes like the result of a bunch of drunk people running low on liquor and deciding to just mix everything they’ve got left with the remains of the ice in the cooler and call it punch – whiskey, beer, bong water, Worcestershire sauce, expired orange juice, Love’s Baby Soft perfume, and that bottle of pink Himalayan salt mom was saving to use on “something special.” My best recommendation for the Lucas Gusano is to keep a bottle in your pocket the next time you know you’re going to be playing “Truth or Dare.” Just be sure to use it on somebody you didn’t want to remain friends with.
Well there you have it, an overview of a few South-of-the-Border treats. My final results are mixed: the Skwinkles were awesome and I highly recommend them. The Peanut Patty wasn’t quite my thing, but it was still tasty and perfect for peanut brittle lovers. Mazapan Azteca wasn’t disgusting, it was just so bland and flavorless that I don’t see the point – you could easily get the same effect by making a peanut butter sandwich with old chalkboard erasers in place of the bread. The Lucas Gusano was nothing less than a horrid Island of Dr. Moreau perversion of a candy that should be avoided at all costs. Stick around, though, as I’m constantly on the look out for new snacks to try – and I think my next visit is going to be to the local Asian market. Stay tuned!