by 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.