Licorice was a staple for many of us as kids. A bag was always required at the movies and during road trips. Several were needed for weekend camping trips. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I tried black licorice for the first time…and loved it. Black quickly replaced my love of red.
I never looked back, but often wondered why they tasted so drastically different. Aside from texture, they had nothing in common. Their tastes were simply not comparable, which lead me to wonder if licorice candy is actually made from licorice root.
Turns out that red licorice is not even considered real licorice. Who knew!? After years of eating the red variety, it turns out that red licorice is just a red confection that is often made with different flavors. Strawberry, cherry, cinnamon and raspberry flavored “licorice” are some of the more common, however, other flavored sticks such as apple and mango are also available.
While both red and black licorice have the same base ingredients (starch/flour, gum arabic, gelatin or a combination thereof), only black is actually made with licorice root. The lesser varieties are typically flavor-reinforced with anise or a combination of mint, anise or laurel, meaning there is not a lot of actual licorice root in those “licorice” varieties.