People easily forget licorice is not simply candy but also an herb (Glycyrrhiza glabra). That begs the question, does licorice candy actually contain any of the real licorice herb? Keep reading to find out.
Licorice is primarily grown in Mediterranean regions and the U.S. these days, but at first, it grew in Europe's southern regions.
Some people find its bittersweet taste delicious so it has been used in the past to make candy. The candy is made by grounding up its root and then boiling it into juice, which can be used as a flavouring.
However, that's not its only use. Licorice also has a long history in folk medicine, from China and Egypt to Greece and the Middle East.
In those areas, it was used as a remedy for digestive problems, inflammation, and upper respiratory issues.
In present times, some people still use it to treat bad skin, infections, and prevent cavities. However it is not advised that you make licorice the backbone of your healthy diet.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said that too much black licorice can give you an irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, and lethargy.
This is due to glycyrrhizin, the compound that makes licorice sweet. Now that you know all about Licorice, let's answer the question, does licorice candy really have true licorice in it?
For those in the U.S., the answer is usually "no." Instead, licorice-flavored candy is probably actually flavored with the anise plant (Pimpinella anisum).
Aniseed oil has a similar tase to licorice, but it tends to be cheaper. Other components might also be added to alter the flavor or appearance of the "licorice."
There's also the actual base of the candy, which may be gelatin, gum arabic, or flour.
Pure licorice root is edible, but it's not exactly candy. As such it is clear that your licorice candy isn't made only of licorice.
In the case of red licorice, the candy is usually cherry, raspberry, or strawberry-flavoured. Just like black licorice, it will also have colourants and additional flavours, like apple, mango, or watermelon.