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Mexico Sweet Mexico

Not long after we moved here, it occurred to us that Mexicans and Mayans have a collective sweet tooth. The Yucatan consumes the most Coca-Cola per capita of anywhere IN THE WORLD. There is also candy everywhere. The first time it really hit us was the first time we walked into Liverpool, the classiest department store here in Merida. It’s on the north side, where the money is, and it carries everything from Baccarat crystal to Calvin Klein sheets to the latest Britney Spears perfume.

We pretty much knew what to expect, but what we didn’t expect was the first thing we saw as we walked in: a HUGE candy counter, with candies we had never seen and did not recognize. And it was doing a brisk business from all the ladies with their Louis Vuitton bags.

The second time we got a clue was when someone shipped us a box of Godiva chocolates from the States. They never arrived, of course. We know some lucky aduana (customs) guy was really happy that week, but what we also learned was that you are not allowed to send candy *into* Mexico. Why? We surmise that the candy cartel here is very strong and just doesn’t want American candy corporations taking over their business. And we can’t blame them. (Just for the record, Mars Corporation seems to have made peace with the Mexican Candy Cartel, because there are M&Ms, Snickers and Three Musketeers bars here. There are also Hershey kisses and a few other American candies, but really, not many. And just for the record, not our favorites. Well, there are also Jelly Bellies, sometimes…)

A few weeks ago, we were invited to the birthday party of a neighbor of a friend. The birthday boy in question was 2 years old, so a piñata was a big part of the celebration. Not that you have to be 2 years old for that here. Anyway, the piñata was hung, the children were blindfolded, the bat was presented and the swinging began. Many thrills and twirls later, the piñata was thoroughly bashed and smashed and tons of Mexican candy spilled all over the floor, only to be greedily collected into plastic bags by everyone (grandma included) at the party. Well, not the gringos. We wouldn’t presume to get between Mexicans and their candy. When all the candy was collected, grandma herself came up to us and presented us with a big bag of the candy, which of course, we could not refuse. She confided to us that it was just the first of three piñatas planned for the evening. Goodness! We departed with the big bag of mysterious sweets, which sat in our refrigerator until one evening we decided to sample and analyze them.

It was research, nothing more.

So we now present the array of Mexican candies in the bag for your perusal. We hope that those of our readers who are away-from-home Yucatecos won’t get too homesick looking at the pictures.

Our first subject, Bocadin, is a Mexican version of a KitKat bar. Nothing unusual there. It was smaller than a KitKat bar, but it was also free, so we feel wrong complaining about that.

 

 

 

 

Second in line is the Bremen chocolate bar. Rather nondescript chocolate. Really nothing special. But I’m sure the little kids love the picture of the cow. Chocolate hecho con leche! (chocolate made with milk!) and it’s a perfect size for grandma to sneak into her nightstand and pop into her mouth when no one is looking (“I don’t know why I keep gaining weight… I never eat candy!)

 

 

BubuLubu’s get our vote for the best name for a Mexican candy. Kind of Yogi Bear and Desi Arnaz all rolled into one. Inside the shiny electric blue packaging is a marshmallow, covered with a sickly sweet red jelly, all wrapped up in a chocolate coating. The marshmallow and chocolate part works, but we could do without the jelly.

 

 

 

Malvaviscos are just marshmallows by another name. A name that sounds rather sinister to us. Like maybe they are planning bad things behind your back, those nasty marshmallows. But come to think of it, “marshmallow” is a pretty weird word too. So there. Malvaviscos go down really nice with a cold martini on a hot day, we discovered, although this is probably not their intended use.

 

 

The next candy is really a candy family: sweet powders that are also spicy, or pica as they say in Spanish. These three are called Pica, Picazon and Rey. They all bite back. Mexicans love their sweets, but they love their chilis even more. Of course, if you are a parent in the United States, your kids have probably come home with something like this or if they haven’t, they will. We didn’t have candy like this during our childhood. We had pixie sticks and of course, the everpopular, Sweettarts, which were sweet and sour. But nothing that was sweet and hot.

The next photo is not candy… but it’s close. They are peanuts (cacahuates here in the Yucatan, mani elsewhere in Mexico). The preferred manner of eating peanuts in Mexico is Japanese style. Yes, it makes no sense. We would love to hear from anyone who knows the history. Japanese style means the peanuts are covered with a crunchy outer covering, like a 1960′s bar nut. If you like your peanut butter crunchy style, you’ll love these.

 

Last but certainly not least, we present Panditas. We know them as Gummy Bears. Panditas means “little panda bears”, not coincidentally. These little bears were every bit as good as their American brothers, and were particularly delicious with a shot of tequila. Olé and all that. Let the research continue…

 

 


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25 Responses to “Mexico Sweet Mexico”

  1. Panditas and tequila? I love it. Sounds like something my husband would do. Anyone for Snickers and red wine?

  2. Cool Blog..an interesting view of our town…

    I will link it…
    :)

  3. BillieS: Snickers and red wine? You bet! That’s one of our favorites.

    David: Thanks! Happy to find another Meridano blogger, too.

  4. did you guys find any “miguelitos” among the pinata’s candies,those were my favorites once,they are really good there is two kinds,one is powder and the other is liquid,if you pour the liquid into the bag of the powder one it is a mix really good.i like it.i wish i can have it again.

  5. Love the candy commentary! But then I’m one of those crazy people who can spend my vacations abroad largely in grocery and hardware stores. We get one here in the local Supermercado (in PA) that is tamarind, marshmallow and chile, I forget the name. The kids think it is gross, but love to give it to their friends to try. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I’m enjoying it immensely!

  6. Haven’t seen any “miguelitos” yet…but we’ll look for them! liquid and powder mix? sounds like fun!!

  7. i love bubulubus! cool blog :)

  8. I got one of the sweet/hot powders from a Christmas pinata. Quite a surprise if you’re not ready. There’s always something fresh in Mexico.

  9. I just came home from Mexico and we love panditas – they are the best gummy bears ever!Where can I buy panditas now that I’m home in the US – can they be ordered online?

  10. We haven’t been able to find anywhere. Mexgrocer.com carries a lot of Mexican foods, but Panditas aren’t on their list. I guess you’ll just have to come back to Mexico!

  11. hi!! i just want to say…..Im mexican & I still live here…………….so………I can get all of those candies whenever I want…jejeje……
    bye.
    by the way, nice blog :)

  12. i think the best gummy bears are the original Haribo from germany

  13. My Spanish teacher gave me a Bocadin bar today. Kit kats are SO much better!!!!

  14. I think the term “Japanese style” comes from a peanut snack the Japanese like to eat. It’s peanuts coated in a sweet crunchy shell. I find them at the local Asian grocery store.

    http://www.thisnext.com/item/5016ED13/6E6B1FC5/Kasugai-Roasted-Mix-Nuts-3-88

    I once got a bag full of the pica powder at my 4th grade teacher’s retirement party. I haven’t been able to get as many because there were warnings about the lead content of some of them.

  15. i think it’s really interesting how most of the candy here has chili on it or in it. for me, it’s gross, i would much rather have a kit kat bar, you know, and if someone decided to put chili powder on it, it would be ruined for me. But everyone here loves it, because it’s what they’ve grown up on and it’s part of the “cultural palate,” i guess. and i think in the us, we have a lot more sour candies, like sour skittles and sour patch kids, but they don’t have much of that here. and we have a lot more chocolate. maybe because it melts so easily in merida, jaja.

    i don’t know, it’s funny how something as ubiquitous as candy is different here.

  16. heii

    well i found your blog, cuz i was looking for a picture of the panditas, and i do like your blog, is interesting how the turists or workers that havent lived here before describe our candys and what we eat.

    its just so fun…about the malvaviscos, well you are rigth they werent made to drink with a martini…they are more to be drink with a hot chocolate, or just eat them like that. Also, the bubulubu, you cant remove the jelly! c´mon! jaja is like the middle of the tastes between the chocolate and the marshmallow…what else..o yeah i love the panditas specially the red ones, then the orange, yellow and i dont eat the green ones, they just dont taste that good.

    kitkats taste good, but bocadins are just some other thing. totally different.

    mm and i think thats all =D good blog. love it =D

  17. [...] Merida, schools have parties, with performances and prizes, including presents for everyone and candy. The City of Merida puts on events with clowns, local TV stars and activities geared toward [...]

  18. can i just say, cacahuates japoneses are increibles! And just so you know, Chapur on c. 63 has a bargain candy bin that is very worth checking out…probably the best selection of chocolate in Merida.

  19. I have been trying to find the company that actually makes the Japanese Peanut.
    I would love to order them bulk. I have an American Comapny I buy them from and they are pricee. DO yuo know what the Mexican comapany that makes them and sell them..My email rszalay [at] aol [dot] com.
    thank you in advance

  20. heii

    well i found your blog, cuz i was looking for a picture of the panditas, and i do like your blog, is interesting how the turists or workers that havent lived here before describe our candys and what we eat.

    its just so fun…about the malvaviscos, well you are rigth they werent made to drink with a martini…they are more to be drink with a hot chocolate, or just eat them like that. Also, the bubulubu, you cant remove the jelly! c´mon! jaja is like the middle of the tastes between the chocolate and the marshmallow…what else..o yeah i love the panditas specially the red ones, then the orange, yellow and i dont eat the green ones, they just dont taste that good.

    kitkats taste good, but bocadins are just some other thing. totally different.

    mm and i think thats all =D good blog. love it =D

  21. I’ve lived in the Philippines for seven years and have learned that both Mexico and the Philippines have much in common. One is the culture and export of sugar cane. Sugar cane was introduced in the Philippines by the Spanish via Mexico. I’ll have to do some history studying to determine if sugar cane is indigeous in Mexico or came with the Spanish across the ocean. Anyway both cultures today love their sweets in any form, particulary soft drinks which are much heavier in sugar then the U.S.

  22. Hey,
    i`m from germany and was in mexiko this summer… there, i loved the gummy bears panditas so much…does anybody know how i can buy them to have some here in germany?

  23. So, my husband is in Mexico for an installation he’s doing for his job. I was planning on sending him a box of goodies since we will miss Valentine’s Day together again. I had included a lolli-pop and a bag of airheads. Will it not make it to his destination??! :[

  24. You didn’t mention WHERE he is in Mexico, but no, any candy isn’t going to pass through customs in our experience.
    If you’re really serious about this, you might try ordering some chocolate to be delivered to him from Mexico. There’s a great chocolate shop here in Merida that makes chocolate to rival Godiva or any gourmet chocolate we have ever tasted. If you want to order some of that to be sent, we could figure out a way to put you in touch with them.

  25. Hi! What a wonderful website!! My father was born in Yucatan, my first husband was from Yucatan and my first child was born there!! I was on a 6 week vacation and ended up spending 6 months there! We stayed with his mother in the house which he grew up in. Reading your different pages brought back old memories. I love Yucatan, the people, the culture and the food. It was hard to imagine that even 35 yrs ago some people still had dirt floors (which incidently, were cleaner than some tile floors I have seen here!!), no indoor plumbing and still cooked with lenia (wood) stuffed between 3 big rocks holding up the pot or pan. Talk about a humbleing experience!!

    I remember the first time I washed clothes by hand and the first time I swept a dirt floor!! What an experience!!! LOL Oh and giving birth at home in a hamaca with a midwife attending the birth. No doctor, no stirups, no drugs for pain….but we did have scissors….a pot of boiling water, and thread to tie off the umbilical cord….(all the necessary tools of birthing! LOL)

    The simple life was really beautiful. And I can totally relate to the recipes where you go out back and pick naranjas agrias, herba buena, menta and other ingredients. I don’t recall any mention of the panadero who would come by twice a day with fresh bread in a big tub on his head, or the milk man who would come by in his ‘little house on the prarie’ horse and buggy carrying a big milk jug and a laddle selling milk. But then again I was in a little town not in Merida.

    Any how, let me just say I probably stayed there about 2 yrs total, but 6 months at a time. I loved it and would love to go back just to see how much things have progressed since I was there.

    Thanks for the wonderful website. I love it. I am planning on sending the link to my daughter who was born there.

    Linda

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