My first taste of this week’s candy was at the foot of Esjan, eaten as fuel before a hike up the mountain that looms just north of Reykjavík. Hardcore hikers and outdoorsy types might scoff at me chowing down on a sugary treat before heading out, but thankfully I am neither. This was my first time hiking an Icelandic mountain, and I’d do it with liquorice laces in hand, goddammit!
I’m not the first person to appreciate the powers of liquorice when it comes to exercise. In fact, some might call liquorice the original power food. Alexander the Great reportedly fed his troops liquorice root when they were marching because he believed it had thirst-quenching qualities. Now before you start lecturing me about how liquorice these days just isn’t the same as it was two millennia ago—jokes on you! Because while everyone else was doubled over halfway up Esjan, or lapping up water from one of those magic glacier-fed Icelandic streams, these Turkish Pepper-filled liquorice laces staved off my thirst so I could climb smoothly to the top.
Since then, I’ve found it hard not to indulge whenever I see these treats at the checkout of Bónus or 10/11. You’ll find the Fylltar Reimar—literally “filled belts”—next to the more standard (and more boring!) black liquorice laces, but I go for the ones with the Turkish Pepper filling every time. I was always that weird kid who loved liquorice allsorts growing up, so bizarre flavour combinations are nothing new to me. But unlike the tough and chewy allsorts, which perpetually tasted like they had been left out on your grandparents’ coffee table for three years too long, this stuff always tastes fresh and tender and juicy, almost like a piece of fruit.
Now, I know there are salty liquorice naysayers out there, so a tube of black liquorice stuffed with Turkish Pepper (a pepper-flavoured salty liquorice—see last week’s candy column for clarification) might not sound too appetizing. I’ll admit, after a few pieces of this stuff even my tongue starts to tingle from the ammonium chloride in the Turkish Pepper. But there’s something about how the combination of bitter, sweet, and salty flavours ping all the different buds on your tongue that makes this candy not only tasty, but also intellectually stimulating. It also helps that plenty of people can’t stand the taste of black liquorice, so it feels like you’re in on a secret if you’re one of the lucky few who can’t get enough of it.
For bonus points, liquorice laces are fun for the whole family. I’ve heard rumours of using the laces as straws, or you could braid them and make friendship bracelets for your friends. Or you could make a friend by giving a stranger on the street a bracelet made of Pipar Fylltar Reimar. Or you could actually use them as laces! Come to think of it, next time I hike Esjan I’ll test this stuff out on my boots first, and wait until I’m back on level ground to refuel.