Growing up next to the border was a blessing because I had the chance to experience many American foods, snacks, and the like while also having the chance to eat certain delicacies only available in Mexico. Needless to say, moving to San Diego was not a very large food culture shock but it did make it hard to fulfill my need for Mexican candy. With the popularization of the chile mango drink aka a mango-nada/chamango and tostilocos, I realized that if my friends enjoyed this beautiful combo of sweet and spicy, they would enjoy all the other candies that Mexico has to offer!**
* Note: This is not an exhaustive list
The Sweet and Sour
Think of a jolly rancher square bar and now imagine it being chewy and a mix of sweet and spicy. Boom, you’ve got the pulparindo’s. Probably one of the more popular items due to its small size and ability to make your mouth confused with its mix of flavors, it is a well-known classic.
Two different names, same sweet taste. If you’re a fan of stringy items (string cheese, nerds string rope, etc) then you’ll love these. What really gives this sweet candy that extra kick is the special little sauce (chamoy). Additionally, this candy comes in the “Rellenos” version which is pineapple flavored on the outside and has that sweet tamarind filling on the inside.
Who doesn’t love a lollipop? Now take that sweet goodness and add a layer of a salty, spicy chili coating that slowly turns into watermelon goodness as you keep licking. If watermelon isn’t your thing, don’t despair because they make these in an Elote (corn) shape (but not flavor) and a mango flavor too.
By now you’ve probably realized the sweet and spicy trend and this one is no different. If you’re a fan of unraveling candy, think Rip Rolls, this is Mexico’s take at the game. It is one big wheel of candy that you slowly roll out like a fruit roll-up but it still makes your tastebuds go wild with its tamarind flavor.
Although these may look like beef jerky sticks, they are far from its drier and meatier counterpart. As you may have guessed, this tamarind candy is sweet and spicy and you tear into it the same way you would lick the sugar off your empty cotton candy stick.
Pelon Pelo Rico
There’s something enjoyable about having to put in some effort in consuming your candy and that is what makes Pelon Pelo Rico so special. Much like play-doh toys that squeeze out dough in various shapes and sizes, in order to eat this Mexican candy, you must push down on the side tabs for the candy “hair” to come out. The flavor? Tamarind, of course.
I like to think of these as the hard candy version of gushers, except there’s only one flavor (tamarind). There is a hard outside layer and a chewy core. Be warned, its intense flavor will leave your tongue and taste buds in a state of shock.
This is the Mexican version of a Blowpop, sweet on the outside (there’s also chili covered versions) and filled with flavor (watermelon, mango, pineapple, strawberry, and tamarind) on the inside. Slightly smaller than a bouncy ball, the addictive flavor makes you want to eat more than just one.
Probably the most popular lollipop I know, its black wrapper makes it edgy and its ability to change colors as you keep licking makes this one a crowd favorite. The chile layer on the outside paves the way to the sweet side after much licking and similar to a Blowpop, ends with a chewy gum center. You really taste the rainbow here.
The Sweet Side
It’s almost odd to find a candy that isn’t a mix of sweet and sour but below are some top childhood picks if you aren’t up to trying anything remotely spicy.
Watching catholic movies, I was always jealous of the people who got to eat the body of Christ because it looked so darn delicious. I got my answer and stopped being jealous when I discovered this Mexican candy which is simply two obleas sandwiched between a layer of cajeta (basically caramel).
According to Buzzfeed, this candy was the Nutella of the 90’s but it was also so much more. Coming in the Neapolitan classic flavors of strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla, arguably the best part about this candy was eating it with the plastic spoon that came with the packaging.
A peanut butter lovers dream, this is the ultimate classic and probably the most recognized candy out there. Whether you’re sharing or eating it yourself, its delicacy and ability to easily crumble is what makes eating it so darn fun. The heavenly flavor of nutty goodness has not been replicated elsewhere, get one now.
Unlike the United States which has a wide variety of popular candy bars, Mexico has one highly recognized chocolate bar and that is Carlos V. It is your typical milk chocolate bar and is even made under Nestle so if you are feeling pretty safe, you can try this one out first.
The Odd One Out
Better known as “Japanese Peanuts,” and popular all around Mexico, these snacks are the ONLY peanuts I want served to me on plane rides. They remind me of Pringles because you can’t just have one and they make the perfect combo with chamoy or chile and limón.