Candy Fight: Red Vines vs Twizzlers

Candy Fight: Red Vines vs Twizzlers

Much like our earlier Candy Fight between Nerds and Runts, you're either a Twizzlers person or a Red Vines person.  I have yet to meet someone who likes both.  I'll just say up front that I'm a Red Vines person, although I do experiment with the occasional Twizzler.  I'm Twizzler-curious, I guess.

Red Vines are a candy which I prefer "properly ripened."  This to some people would be a state described as "stale."  I once worked in a small office where we would occasionally buy a big plastic tub of Red Vines from Costco.  

Everyone in the office had the same opinion on Red Vines, so by collective consent when a new tub arrived we would open it and leave the lid off for several days.  You just can't eat raw Red Vines!  I mean, you COULD, but why would you?

The pack of Red Vines I bought for this comparison test were thoughtfully pre-ripened.  Although the package was a seemingly impenetrable plastic, and although the "best by" date is well into next year, the candy inside is nearly rock hard. So hard that after eating two or three I have to take a break, because my jaw muscles ache.  It's like a red licorice version of beef jerky.

And I love it.

Red Vines are not only vegan and vegetarian friendly, they also follow Michael Pollan's dictum about only eating things with five or fewer ingredients.  Red Vines contain no preservatives, which is why they get tough in the first place.  They have no fat, and only five ingredients: corn syrup, wheat flour, citric acid, artificial flavor, and Red 40.

Red Vines are also one of the few candies which are manufactured by a small, privately owned company.  In this case, the American Licorice Company.  The company was founded in 1914 in Chicago, with a West Coast processing facility in Union City, CA.  

Red Vines were originally called Classic Raspberry Vines, so I guess that answers the question "What flavor are these?"  

Twizzlers are smaller and far more tender, and are made by Hershey.  They also come in a bewildering variety of flavors, although for this test I chose Strawberry for maximum similarity.  Twizzlers have the same ingredients as Red Vines, plus sugar, corn starch, palm oil, salt, glycerine, potassium sorbate (as a preservative), and soy lecithin.  Michael Pollan would not approve!  (Actually he probably wouldn't approve of Red Vines either, so there's that.)

Twizzlers have a much more definite flavor compared to Red Vines.  In addition to being smaller and glossier, I might actually have guessed "strawberry" without reading the package.  They also stay soft, thanks to the preservatives.  

The texture of a fresh Twizzler is a little too smooth and plasticky for my taste.  A Red Vine, even when fresh, has a much more food-like texture.

It should be noted for the record that neither Twizzlers nor Red Vines is really "licorice" in any meaningful sense of the word.  They contain no extracts from the licorice root, and therefore have none of the health benefits.  They're darned tasty, though!