I love soft licorice. Not that hollow Twizzler crap. Real licorice that's thick and chewy. Fruit-flavored licorice, that is - I can't stand black licorice (tastes a bit like anise. Blech.).
While shopping at an international grocery store the other day, I came across the Panda line of licorices from Finland. They featured a raspberry licorice that sounded promising. The back of the bag promised a delicious treat that was fat free and suitable for vegans. I'm no vegan, but I figured this meant it was a bit healthier than the standard licorice, so I scooped up a bag.
Holy crap, did that bag lie to me, y'all. It LIED.
Not about the fat free-ness (fat free-ocity? the state of being fat free?). Or the vegan claims - the ingredients appear to be safe for those who eschew eating any form of animal. No, the bag LIED about being delicious.
I've been eating them for a few days now because I'm stumped. The ingredients appear similar to those of other licorices that I've eaten, like Lucky Country. (Which, by the way, if you see at your local store, BUY IT. Trust me. That is one licorice that lives up to any claims of delectability.) And yet, despite any discernible different in ingredients, this Panda stuff has a horrible taste when you first bite into it that I simply can't nail down - is it a weird mixture of the molasses and the raspberry flavoring that's creating this horrible bitterness? Could it be the black carrot that is used for coloring gives it a funky zing? I also cannot suss out what's causing the pungent smell that you get when you open the bag. And before you ask, I did double check that the bag hadn't expired.
Yes, you can taste the raspberry. As the initial nastiness fades, it's replaced by a flood of raspberry, which would be fantastic if the licorice tasted like that from first bite to last. But then, after you swallow, there's a terrible aftertaste that I can't describe beyond "tart evil." Honestly, I just ate another one while writing this paragraph to try to find the words and all I can think is "Oh my God why do I keep eating them?!? STOP EATING THEM!"
So. In conclusion, I have no idea what went wrong here, but I wholeheartedly do NOT recommend you try Panda Traditional Soft Licorice in the raspberry flavor. If you want a yummy licorice that isn't going to make you want to burn off your taste buds, I'd suggest you check out that Lucky Country I mentioned above. I'm not even going to tell you where you can find Panda or for how much it retails, because I like you and I don't want to hurt you. I swear.