Mexico is known for its vibrant culture, rich history, delicious cuisine, and of course – its candy! Mexican candy, often referred to as “dulces” in Spanish, is a popular treat that comes in endless varieties. From spicy and salty to sweet and sour, Mexican candies offer unique flavors and textures that will tantalize your taste buds.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the sweet side of Mexico and discuss 10 iconic Mexican candies that are beloved treats. Whether you grew up eating these goodies, are a hardcore foodie looking to try new things, or just have a sweet tooth craving something different – this guide will give you a tasty tour of Mexican candy culture. So unwrap a treat and let’s get started!
Iconic Mexican Candies
When most people think of Mexican candy, what likely comes to mind first are sweets like spicy mango lollipops chamoy candies. While these are certainly popular Mexican candies, there are many more delightful and authentic Mexican sweets that are icons in their own right across the country. Here are 10 of the most classic Mexican candies that are popular treats:
Tamarind Candy (Pulparindo)
Made from the sticky, sweet-tart tamarind fruit, Pulparindo tamarind candy is a favorite salty-sweet candy in Mexico. It looks like a small brown brick but with a tart kick that dances on your taste buds. Tamarind is very popular in Mexican candies, drinks, and candies for its unique fruity-yet-salty flavor.
Spicy Mango Lollipops (Mangonadas)
These lollipops are made with mango, chili powder, and lime for a sweet, sour, and fiery candy treat. You can find them at most corner stores and they are a popular Mexican candy and snack. The bright colors and flavors are an instant mood boost!
Lime and ChiliSalt Candy
Sour yet spicy, these small candies are made from lime, salt, and chili powder. They pack quite the punch! You suck on them until they dissolve for a salty-spicy-sour candy rush.
Mazapan Peanut Candy
Mazapan is a traditional Mexican peanut candy made by grinding peanuts and mixing them with sugar. The result is a sweet and nutty fudge-like candy that makes for the perfect bite-sized treat. It’s a favorite around Christmas time.
Tamarind Pulp Candy
Tamarind pulp candies, often wrapped in wax paper, are popular for their sweet-tart tamarind flavor. The paste-like interior almost resembles prunes and has an awesome sour kick. Tamarind candies like these are usually only found in Mexican specialty stores.
Lime and Chili Powder Candy
One of the most iconic Mexican candies, these small white candies are rolled in chili powder and lime for a salty-sour-spicy burst of candy. You can find huge bags of these at most stores in Mexico and they make for the perfect treat (or prank!). The candies themselves dissolve quickly once you pop them in your mouth so be ready for that tingling trifecta of flavors.
A childhood favorite, Duvalin candies come in a round plastic container with two separate flavors (usually one chocolate and one cream). You twirl the candy to combine the flavors and get a delicious hybrid in each bite. Popular flavors include vanilla-chocolate, strawberry-chocolate, and coconut-chocolate.
Riley’s Tamarind Candy
Riley’s tamarind candies are long strips of real tamarind pulp that is sweet and sticky. They have a brown outer layer but a soft, chewy brown interior tasting of sweet-tart tamarind. These candies require some work to get through but deliver huge flavor payoff.
Pelon Pelo Rico Candy
This unique candy has a cult following in Mexico. The most popular version combines sweet tamarind, spicy chili, and salty lemon flavors into small sweets with a goose on the packaging. It truly delivers on the sweet, spicy and salty candy trifecta that Mexican candy nails so well. You either love it or hate it!
Abuelita translating to “little grandmother” is a popular brand of high-quality Mexican chocolate tablets. It has hints of cinnamon and a classic chocolate taste. You can use the tablets to make hot cocoa or champurrado (a Mexican spiced chocolate drink). It melts into rich, velvety goodness.
Where to Buy Iconic Mexican Candies?
The best places to buy authentic Mexican candies are specialty stores or aisles in areas with large Mexican populations. You can also find many classic Mexican sweets at Mexican bakeries and markets. If you don’t live near any specialty shops, you can order Mexican candy online through various retailers.
Popular brands to look for include Pelon Pelo Rico, Dulces Vero, Mazapan de la Rosa, Tamarindos, Dulces Miguelitos, and more. Riley’s Tamarind is also a common brand. Many traditional Mexican candies can be found under $3-5 USD per pack. Part of the fun is mixing and matching to create your own Mexican candy sampler!
Cultural Significance of Mexican Candy
So why is candy such a big part of Mexican culture? And why do Mexican candies have such unique flavors compared to American sweets?
First, candy is often bought as small luxuries. It creates moments of sweetness and joy in everyday life. Vendors selling sweets are also common near schools, events, and town squares. So candy becomes integrated into regular life.
As for the flavors – the ingredients used reflect the agriculture and cultural taste preferences of Mexico. Fruits like mango, tamarind, lime, coconut and more grown in Mexico bring tropical flavors. Chili powder, salt, and spice add the classic Mexican zest. Nuts like peanuts and almonds are also common. When blended into candies, you get sweet and sour bursts, salty or spicy kicks, fruity flavors, and nutty textures that dance on your taste buds.
Candy has also become tied with certain Mexican holidays and special occasions. For example, sugar skulls and chocolate are a huge part of the Day of the Dead. Mazapan peanut candies are enjoyed around Christmas. Tamarind candies are often given out at parades and Cinco de Mayo. So candy becomes interwoven into Mexican traditions.
Tips for Enjoying Mexican Candy
Ready to get tasting? Here are some quick tips for enjoying iconic Mexican candy:
- Don’t be intimidated by flavors like chili or tamarind if you haven’t tried them before. Embrace sweet and salty, sour and spicy candies!
- Pair your candy with traditional Mexican drinks like horchata, jamaica (hibiscus) tea, or atole.
- Try Mexican candies after a meal for dessert or as a snack break while exploring a Mexican town. Sit at the zocalo (town square) and people watch!
- Bring an assortment of sweets while traveling Mexico so you can compare regional differences.
- Share candies with friends and family to see everyone’s favorites, make mixes of multiple candies, and weigh in on the sweet vs spicy debate.
- Check ingredient lists if you have food allergies. Many Mexican candies contain nuts, seeds, gluten, corn, coconut, soy and dairy.
The possibilities are endless when you enter the world of Mexican candy! With so much variety, you’re bound to discover new favorites.
5 Must-Try Mexican Candy Recipes
Beyond the pre-packaged candies, Mexico also boasts some incredible candy recipes. When these sweet treats are homemade, you get even bolder, brighter flavors. Here are 5 incredible Mexican candy recipes to give your taste buds a South of the Border vacation:
Cajeta, similar to dulce de leche, is a popular caramel candy sauce in Mexico. When transformed into cajeta candy, you get sweet melted caramel loaded with nuts and fruit. Mango, coconut, and pecan cajeta candies are especially divine.
Cocada Coconut Candy
Cocadas are chewy coconut candies often sold by street vendors in Mexico. They have a brown sugar base mixed with shredded coconut for a sweet and nutty candy that melts in your mouth. Add spices like cinnamon or vanilla for extra warmth.
Jalapeno Strawberry Candy
This unique recipe combines sweet strawberries with fiery jalapenos for a perfect sweet-spicy candy mix. The jalapenos get finely diced and stirred into melted jelly for a kick of heat. They get poured over fresh strawberries for a gorgeous look too. It’s sweet, juicy and spicy in one bite!
Move over crème brûlée – Mexican flan candies are the rich, velvety dessert you need to try. These miniature candies have an ultra-smooth flan base swirled with fruity toppings. Mango and strawberry flans are regular favorites.
Alegrandres Sour Candy
These sour tamarind stuffed candies require some work but deliver huge flavor. Tamarind pulp gets seasoned with salt, chili and lemon then stuffed into small pouches made of tamarind nectar. The result? Sweet, spicy, salty and sour explosions. They look simple but pack huge complexity.
Bring the Sabor Home
Now that you’re a Mexican candy expert, you can bring the sabor (flavor) home to share the dulces experience with friends and family. Exploring Mexican candy culture opens you up to entirely new flavor dimensions. You get to discover textures like chewy, crispy, fizzy, and gummy along with taste sensations from tropical fruits and spice blends. Candy becomes an adventure – whether you’re unwrapping a new sweet on the streets of Mexico or sharing your haul back home. ¡Provecho!