TWIZZLERS WERE HANDS-DOWN my favorite movie candy as a kid. They don’t melt, they don’t make noise, and there is plenty of them to share without having to break anything in half. Out of 1,815 people voting in a recent survey, Twizzlers ranked sixth among favorite movie candies. I always preferred the black ones, believing they were licorice. Several decades ago that was true, and since I am more than several decades old, back then I was right. But today’s Twizzlers have nothing to do with licorice, yet the perception remains. Ask anyone you know, and they will immediately say Twizzlers are licorice. But now you know better.
Actually, this is a good thing since real licorice is bad for you. Eating it can cause dangerously high blood pressure and dangerously low potassium levels because of something called glycyrrhizinic acid, which “sets off a chain reaction of biochemical events in the body that increases blood pressure.” This is not likely to happen to a normal person, since you’d have to eat a ton of the stuff in one sitting or eat it every day for a couple of weeks before the acid builds up enough to become dangerous. But if you do that, or take daily herbal pills containing licorice, overdosing is certainly a risk.
It takes about 15 hours to make a real Twizzler, although there are several YouTube videos online that show you how to make them in your own kitchen in about half an hour, so who knows what the heck goes on in that Twizzler factory in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. (I guess they get paid by the hour.)
The ingredients are corn syrup, flour, sugar, cornstarch, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, salt, artificial flavorings, citric acid and potassium sorbate. The cherry and strawberry flavors include red dye #40; the black ones have licorice extract. Clearly they are not what you would call nutritious. Not that I eat Twizzlers anymore. I no longer do anything that’s bad for me, which is one reason why getting old sucks. On the plus side, I’m healthier than the average teenager.
— Andrea Rouda
Contributor Andrea Rouda blogs at The Daily Droid.