When I was younger, my favorite treat at the candy shops in the malls was the red licorice shoelace. I’d tie them into knots and gobble them up before I’d make it to the parking lot. I have been craving them for some time, and I think I may never taste them again.
The problem is that, a number of years ago, some genius and his focus groups decided to change the formula for the red shoelace licorice, making it taste like Twizzlers. Extensive field research has brought me to the conclusion that all shoelace licorice throughout the malls of America is produced in the same factory, by the same Oompa Loompa gulag, because it all tastes like Twizzlers. If I want a Twizzler, I’ll buy a goddamn Twizzler. I really don’t understand this switch, as a business decision. Why be just like a ubiquitous, multi-million dollar product?
Two years ago, I discovered at Penn Station a candy from Necco called Danish Ribbons that, lo and behold, tasted just like shoelace licorice. I bought a roll just about every day on the way home to the Long Island Rail Road. Unfortunately, this only lasted a few weeks before Hudson News stopped carrying it. My recent internet sleuthing has revealed that the candy has been discontinued. Curse you, candy oligarchs!
It’s a bitter reminder of another traumatic candy loss: the original Good and Fruity. Good and Fruity is the sweeter sequel product to the candy covered black licorice product, Good and Plenty. The original Good and Fruity was candy covered red licorice, but many years ago, before shoelace went Twizzler, Good and Fruity replaced its licorice filling with jelly bean-like goo.
So, I’ve been on the search for another candy with that old licorice flavor. I have tried Kookaburra licorice (tastes like gelatinous fruit snacks), Panda licorice (tastes like prunes), Finska licorice (tastes like fruit roll-ups). I’m running out of options. I’ve been searching various “olde tyme candy shoppe” websites, but flavor is a hard thing to describe. One promises red licorice laces that are “not the shiny red ‘licorice’ laces that taste like those famous spiral red licorice sticks. Instead ‘Old Fashioned’ tasting laces from our youth.” I have my doubts. In any event, I can’t figure out how to order them.
I’m intrigued by Red Vines, since some descriptions have hinted that they might be the flavor I’m looking for. Besides, I have heard that Red Vines plus Mr. Pibb equals crazy delicious (of course, neither of those products can actually be purchased in New York on a lazy Sunday or any other day).
It has been suggested to me that perhaps the only way that I will ever taste real red licorice laces again is to launch a campaign, but I think I have my hands full with other, more pressing campaigns. So get to work, Internet! Launch the online petitions. Start the blogs. Let’s get some banner ads. You can do it!
And if you can’t, then hopefully my crazy pregnant woman cravings will switch back to pickles in a few days.