Candy Girl: The World Looks Mighty Good to Me….

flavoredtootsierollsby Sara Mead

The other day I was in Target replenishing my supply of black licorice jelly beans when I was pleasantly surprised to run across another delightful, but rarely seen, candy treat: Flavored tootsie rolls.

To be clear, I’m already a pretty big fan of ordinary tootsie rolls. The chewiness, the chocolatey non-chocolateness, the almost wholesome old fashionedness. I like ’em.

But flavored tootsie rolls kick it up to the next level. They come in five flavors: Lemon, Orange, Cherry, Lime, and Vanilla. The fruit flavors are relatively similar to Starburst in taste, but with the chewy-soft texture of tootsie rolls, which I think is actually an improvement. The lemon, orange, and cherry flavors are all delicious. The lime flavor is actually not very good–I think it tastes like soap.

But the best, oh, the best, is the vanilla flavored tootsie roll. For reasons I don’t fully understand, vanilla is not a very common or popular candy flavor, even though it’s ubiquitous in ice cream and baked goods, and the vanilla tootsie rolls have really got me wondering why. They are so good. Rich vanilla taste, intense but not cloying sweetness. It’s almost like eating really, really good white cake frosting, but without the gross feeling you get from eating cake frosting by itself. So yummy.

I definitely remember flavored tootsie rolls being around in my youth, but they were very rare, and they seem to have become more common in the last few years. Somewhat inexplicably, however, they mostly seem to appear around candy-rich holidays: In giant mixed tootsie roll product bags at Halloween, in “limited edition” winter-themed bags of all-Vanilla tootsie rolls at Christmas (that was awesome!), and showing off their bright, springy colors in the candy aisle this Easter season. If I ran the world, they would be on store shelves all year, right next to the regular tootsie rolls, and you’d probably also be able bags of all vanilla tootsie rolls as well. Another oddity: Except in the giant Halloween mix bags, you never see flavored and regular tootsie rolls for sale in the same bag. I certainly understand why you don’t want those brown wrappers messing up the pretty rainbow in the Easter-themed flavored tootsie roll bags, but more generally, I really think an opportunity’s being mixed here. At the risk of rekindling the Terry’s Chocolate Orange controversy, I have to say that I think eating an orange and a traditional tootsie roll in your mouth at once is delicious, if a bit difficult to chew.

So, if you’ve never tried flavored tootsie rolls before, get yourself down to the local target and grab a bag this Easter season. And Tootsie Roll Industries people: please market the flavored ones more widely and throughout the year.


20 responses to “Candy Girl: The World Looks Mighty Good to Me….

  1. i always look forward to reading your candy columns!
    you would have loved a candy that was made years ago….when there were actual corner candy stores!
    it was called “bonomo’s turkish taffy.”
    they were long, thin strips of taffy, and as i recall, they came in vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and possibly banana.
    the taffy was chewy, but so creamy and the flavors were wonderful.
    by the way, have you ever gotten a big, cardboard barrel of saint james salt water taffy from atlantic city?
    i think you might love that taffy.
    they come in little, individual pieces, wrapped in colorful, polka~ dotted paper…..and in every flavor. they melt in you mouth and stick to your teeth….and they are one of my happy childhood remembrances!
    i think you would like them too!
    and of course, if you like coconut, there is nothing comparable to a box of chocolate covered coconut patties from miami beach in a white box with green palm trees!
    i think you would have loved the old fashioned boardwalks on the jersey shore of yesteryear….
    with sparkling, white confectionaries with homemadee frozen custard, jelly and caramel apples, taffy, handmade toffee butter crunch, peanut brittle spread out on wax paper and licorcice pipes and chocolates!

  2. I would like for you to run the world so we can have them all the time. :)

  3. verplanck colvin

    are you kidding me? these were the worst candy you could possibly get during my halloween heydays. do not want.

  4. Here’s the thing: Tootsie Rolls are goo. I picture, in a giant factory somewhere, an enormous vat with a latex udder at the bottom positioned over a conveyor belt, the udder squirting out pencil-eraser-sized portions of goo every two seconds. The conveyor belt whisks the goo away to where it can be hardened, wrapped, and distributed to the waiting Tootsie Roll-eating population in time for Halloween.

    In my mind, the way to distinguish a Tootsie Roll from actual goo the size of a pencil eraser is to concentrate on the “chocolatey” taste inherent in a Tootsie Roll. I can pop an ordinary Tootsie Roll and be reasonably satisfied that I am not actually chewing on a pencil-eraser-sized lump of goo because I know a Tootsie Roll tastes “chocolatey,” while goo, I should think, does not. Upon tasting a Tootsie Roll, I am content with the chocolatey goodness pleasantly oozing across my tongue and I can temporarily remove from my brain the mental images of the giant vat filled with goo from whence this treat sprung forth.

    Absent the chocolate flavor, however, I can’t blot out this image. A Vanilla Tootsie Roll is vanilla-flavored goo. It tastes exactly like vanilla-flavored goo that has been squeezed through a latex udder, hardened, wrapped, and shipped should taste.

  5. My favourite candy in the history of the universe is real saltwater taffy, from one of those little coast towns, in Vanilla flavour. No candy will ever come close…

  6. I have found a soulmate! I absolutely adore Flavor Rolls, especially the lemon and vanilla ones.

  7. Interesting, judging from the comments here and some reax I’ve received about this post from people I know in, like, real life, there seems to be a real gender divide in opinions on flavored tootsie rolls (and maybe tootsie rolls more generally?). Perhaps this is just an issue of small sample size, though, since I can’t think of any other good explanation.

  8. If you’re fan of vanilla-flavored chewy candies, you should try White Rabbits. They’re Chinese, I believe specifically known for being from Beijing, and they are delicious. You can probably find them at a good Asian grocery store. They were included in the melamine-scare recall last year because they contain milk ingredients, but production has now resumed and the candies are deemed safe. Which is good, because I was going into withdrawal.

  9. I remember when I first discovered these. I always felt guilty because of the “goo” factor, like I was lowering my standards or something. But they’re so good. I think they beat the chocolate-ish flavor of ordinary tootsie rolls, hands down.

  10. just in case any other candy~fanciers might be interested,
    here is the interesting link for the fralinger~james taffy shops on the boardwalk in atlantic city.

    seems they still have the same offerings, in beautiful tins and the papier~mache barrel of saltwater taffy is still there!
    i dont know what it would be like today, but it was right on the boardwalk, facing the atlantic ocean, with ferris wheels and carousels and these confectionaries, filled with goodies….
    how much better could it get!!

  11. I’d like to see a few paragraphs dedicated to maryjanes.


    loved the creamy peanutbuttery filling!
    was a real toothsticker though.
    and very cute wrapper,
    maryjane reminded me of the morton salt girl.

    there were good sticky candies then…like the sugar daddy lollypops and black cows….
    a good way to lose your baby teeth!

    jujubes were absolutely beautiful…like a box of jewels…but if they got stuck in a molar, you just had to wait for it to dissolve…
    and if it got stuck in your throat (happened often)…
    all bets were off.

  13. I don’t think it’s a gender divide, Sara — I really like these things, too, although I’m not a huge fan of the vanilla and consequently don’t see a strong case for favoring them over Starbursts (I do like the cylindrical form factor better, though — no hard edges, and it saves precious unwrapping time).

  14. perhaps someone remembers
    the oddest confection of all…
    the color of african violets
    and with the strangest taste.
    nothing else in the world tasted like it.

    chowards violet gum and violet mints…
    popular in the fifties.

  15. I remember Violets. They were certainly odd and curious tasting. Weren’t they supposed to freshen your breath after smoking cigs? What about Sen-Sen? Weird stuff.
    I loved Bonomo Turkish Taffy. Banana was my fave.

  16. yes, i think choward’s violet mints and gum were especially for smokers. they were scented like perfume also!
    wow!! sen~sen! i completely forgot about those little packets!
    they remind me of the mixed spices in bowls at the cash register in indian restaurants!
    i see that you can still buy sen~sen on, and the people that bought it, also bought clark’s teaberry gum and king~size candy cigarettes!!
    another odd tasting gum was, blackjack licorice chewing gum. …
    and for most oddly textured…remember pine brothers honey and cherry “glycerine” cough drops?

  17. and now,
    thinking of sen~sen,
    comes back to me, like out of a dream….
    emerald green clorets chorophyll chewing gum!
    they were like bright green chiclets.
    i think they were also primarily for smokers.

  18. Sounds delicious! But don’t you ever wish that candies would stop making the same five fruit flavors? How about non-fruit flavored candy like oh say, honey butter, cinnamon, or pumpkin pie. Now we’re talking!

  19. jake garn

    years ago, there were silkysmooth and solid candy drops by a company called reeds.
    they were profoundly flavorful and longlasting.
    they came in a hot cinnamon, root beer, butter toffee and butterscotch.
    they were the most flavorful hard candy drops.

    there were wonderful candies in the fifties…but many have gone to the old candy cemetery.
    also, there was a candy~ice cream that was one of the best things i ever tasted….
    howard johnson’s peppermint candy ice cream!!!!
    scrumptious in every way!!!

    thank you for this candy thread, which brought back so many happy candy memories!!!!!!
    candy~girl, i wish you could go in a time machine to an old corner candy store of yesteryear…
    a summer day, a new katy keene comic and a clark bar….very close to heaven!!!!!
    thank you for the memories:-)

  20. Yes,I remember those Reeds candy drops, too. Those flavors were exotic at the time.
    My mom always had Clorets gum in her purse to freshen her breath…..they had chlorophyl in them, like in parsley, to get rid of your bad breath. It was the best thing before the breath mint craze began.
    The “Vermont Country Store” catalog has alot of old time candies in it,, including the gum flavors mentioned by Violet, above.

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