I promised myself I would make it through this entire candy review without making a joke about Bingo Balls being called “Bingo Balls.” My editor tells me the Icelandic name for this candy—“Bingo Lakkrískúlur”—provides less opportunities for inappropriate jokes about testicles. So get your mind out of the gutter!
Bingo Balls are everything you didn’t know you wanted in a candy. I’ve even heard some people call them the quintessential Icelandic nammi. “If I was going to give a foreigner some Icelandic candy to try, I would give them Bingo Balls,” says Hrefna Björg Gylfadóttir, ever the truth-teller. It’s a simple concept: take some liquorice (because c’mon, you can’t have Icelandic candy without a li’l liquorice), throw in some caramel, and cover it with chocolate. And voila—it’s a taste sensation.
I can already hear the liquorice naysayers groaning (or perhaps rolling their eyes). But do not fear: despite the admittedly strange flavour combination, Bingo Balls will appeal to even the most liquorice-averse. Somehow the caramel masks the strong black liquorice taste, leaving only the faintest and most refreshing of liquorice root notes on your tongue. To cap it all off, the smooth chocolate coating will have you coming back for more (and more, and more, and more).
Of course, Bingo Balls don’t come without their flaws. To begin with, they’re awful if eaten cold. I’ve made the mistake of tearing open a bag in a tent in northern Iceland in five-degree weather, only to find that they’d turned into dangerous near-frozen balls of disappointment. Not only did biting into the cold caramel almost chip my teeth, the frigid chocolate coating shattered into a million little pieces all over the floor of my tent. Admittedly, even when eaten warm the chewy caramel and liquorice centre can be tough on your teeth, but I like to think of that as an extra exercise for your jaw.
The second flaw is purely an error of design. If you open a bag of Bingo Balls, there’s no way you’ll ever be able to store them for later without spilling candy everywhere (unless you’re one of those people who think ahead of time and bring along an elastic or one of those handy bag clips). The seam of the bag will just keep opening wider and wider until your pockets or your purse or your tent floor is covered with the stuff. Of course, this problem could be easily fixed by introducing a resealable bag (Góa—I’m talking to you).
On the upside, there’s a very good chance that after you’ve opened a bag of Bingo Lakkrískúlur you’ll end up finding the little balls of chocolatey liquorice goodness in the most unexpected places for days and weeks afterwards. So whenever you’re having a bad day or feeling a little bit down, you’ll always have a Bingo Ball nearby to cheer you up.