Monday 10 May 2010

Panda Licorice

If you're reading this review today (10th May), it's your lucky day ! In honour of Love Licorice Day (yes, I think they might have made that one up, but who cares ?!), Panda Licorice are offering you the chance to nip over to twitter and grab some free licorice. "Panda-tastic! Celebrate LOVE LICORICE DAY!! UK Tweeps follow @PandalicoriceUK & tweet I LOVE LICORICE to get #FREE licorice TODAY only". Can't say fairer than that !

Unfortunately, I hate licorice ! I've never liked licorice or aniseed and the girls are the same. Whenever there's a big box of Haribo sweets to pick through, there are always a few hard black lumps sitting in the bottom of the box that nobody will touch (except Mike and the dogs !)

However, Panda Licorice do make a surprisingly large range of different flavoured or filled licorice that do look quite tempting, even to a non-licorice lover like me. So getting into the spirit of Love Licorice Day, I shrugged off my prejudices and decided to try some of the flavoured licorice. And I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

The first one I tried was their Cherry Licorice. Now, this doesn't look like licorice at all, it looks more like strawberry bootlaces so I happily tossed a piece in my mouth and declared it delicious. As did the girls - and Mike, but he likes normal licorice anyway ! Pleasantly surprised and quietly confident, I grabbedthe bar of mint licorice, for some inexplicable reason singing "I'm a secret licorice eater" to the tune of "I'm a secret lemonade drinker" ! (Remember the old R. Whites advert ? "I've been trying to give it up but it's just one of those nights. R. Whites" !)

Ripping open the wrapper and expecting to see a green bootlace-type sweet, I groaned as I saw black licorice with a white minty-tasting filling. Wrinkling up my nose in anticipated distaste, I took a tentative bite - and was surprised to like the taste. There is a slight background taste of licorice but what comes through most is sweet, cool mint - no bitterness or aniseedy tang. Wow, that's two licorice products I've actually liked !

Looking on the Panda Licorice website (called Land of Licorice - the kids will love it but don't go on there in the middle of the night because the lion roars, that you can't switch off, will wake them up !), I was amazed at the number of different products they sell. Normal licorice, and the traditional licorice comfits, but also bags of multi-flavoured Licorice Creams or Soft Licorice Bears that the kids will love. Forget Jelly Babies, go for Panda Licorice Bears - or mix them up and have some fun giving the Jelly Babies piggy-backs (or should that be panda-backs ?) before you eat the lot !

What most impresses me though is the range of different flavoured licorice you can buy. I've already mentioned the cherry and mint, but there is also raspberry and lemon.

I also love the fact that Panda Licorice is free from E-numbers and artificial additives. "The secret of the unique Panda flavour lies in carefully cooking only four simple ingredients - molasses syrup, wheat flour, licorice extract and aniseed oil. Being free from all artificial ingredients, and cooked in such a traditional but impressive way, it’s easy to see why everyone truly loves Panda. This “no nasties” policy adopted by Panda since the beginning has earned the products their natural homes in lunch boxes and food cupboards across the UK." Obviously, the other flavours or filled bars contain extra ingredients but still nothing artificial, so they're much better than some of the brightly coloured, artificially flavoured sweets that will send your kids hyper while the E-numbers work their way through their systems.

I still won't eat the hard black lumps at the bottom of the Haribo box, but I will no longer declare I hate all licorice. Happy Love Licorice Day everyone - now get on over to Twitter before it's all gone !!

star rating : 4/5

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