For the well-traveled foodie, exploring international candies is one of the best parts of learning about new cultures. From England’s Cadbury favorites to American Hershey’s chocolate, Japanese Pocky to South African Chappies, candies around the world are as unique and full of flavor as the countries they call home.
But as the resident Mexican candy experts, we know that Mexican candy has one of the most unique and delicious flavor profiles of any candy country. But you might not be as familiar with the history of our favorite Mexican candies — and that the influence of Mexican candymaking culture stretches around the world!
Today, we’re breaking down some of our favorite things about Mexican candy — what makes Mexican candy so good, how it compares to other candy cultures, and why we keep coming back to these iconic flavors.
What We Love About Mexican Candy
Pop quiz — Did you know that chocolate originated in Mexico? It’s true! Cacao beans, native to Mexico, were so popular among the Aztecs that they were used as currency, refined into drinks, and mixed with decadent spices to create the first Mexican candies. With the introduction of sugar, the Mexican candy palate expanded to include flavors like dulce de leche, mazapan, and our favorite, tamarindo.
What we love about Mexican candy is its unique approach to sweetness: while sugar has become an essential ingredient, most Mexican candies balance out their recipes with salty, sour, and zesty flavors you won’t find anywhere else. And yes — spicy Mexican candy can get so hot it’ll knock your socks off!
Mexican Candy vs. American Candy
We know and love our classic favorites, but for our friends in the United States, Mexican candy’s flavor profile needs to be tasted to be believed. If you haven’t tried it before, modern American candy tends to be smooth and processed, with an emphasis on sweetness and chocolate over other flavors. In comparison, the Mexican candy we know and love tends to be creamier on the tongue, but it also comes with unique textures and flavors that can be surprising to an American palate.
For example, one of the most popular flavors in Mexican candy is tamarindo, or tamarind, a fruit known for its tangy, sour pucker. No matter where you grew up, any Mexican neighborhood is sure to be chock full of tamarindo. We put tamarindo in just about everything: lollipops, hard candy, ice cream, and gum — even in chocolate!
Mexican Candy vs. European Candy
Across the pond, European candy tends to have less processed ingredients than their American counterparts. When we add Mexican candy to the mix, international candy lovers are in for a surprise. Similar to American candy, European candy recipes put an emphasis on rich, creamy ingredients — and lots and lots of sugar. Meanwhile, Mexican candy builds off traditional Aztec and Mayan recipes passed down through generations of our friends and family members, given interesting new twists with the introduction of ingredients like processed sugar.
When you compare Mexican candy vs. European candy, this is where you’ll notice the spice levels. Have you ever been tricked into a big bite of a chili-coated candy bar? (We have, and we’re not ashamed to admit it — our tíos learned not to try that again when we got them back with Extra Spicy Pulparindots!)
Chili peppers can be found in many Mexican candy recipes, from chocolate to lollipops and everything in between. While these peppers are typically on the no-spice-to-barely-sweating heat scale, braver heat lovers will discover certain candy brands that pack more of a punch — like that sweetened hot chili coating! (Our favorite: Diablo’s Chamoy Chili Seasoned Gummy Bears, but it’s hard to trick our cousins into a handful of them these days. What can we say? It’s tradition.)
Bring on the Salt
Finally, one of the best parts of Mexican candy is its salty-sweet factor — and if you’re a tried-and-true Mexican candy lover, you know why that salt is so scrumptious. Processed lollies and hard candies from other cultures can be so overwhelmingly sweet that you feel it in your molars (we’re lookin’ at you, Fun Dip). Meanwhile, the Mexican candy we know and love relies on salt to balance out the sweetness. Salty ingredients like nuts, sesame seeds, and chamoy (salted and fermented sour fruit, for our international friends) add a layer of complexity to Mexican candy that you won’t find in other cultures.
When it comes down to it, Mexican candy has to be tasted to be believed — and whether you’ve been mass-ordering Lucas Muecas since you were a kid or you want to introduce your neighbors to their first Pulparindo, MexiCrate has a curated tour of Mexican candy ready to ship to your front door.
Shop our Dulceria to pick individual favorites from our entire candy shop. Or if you’re not sure where to start, try a little bit of everything with one of our monthly subscription boxes, available in three scrumptious sizes. Each month, our candy experts craft a curated collection of Mexican candy, snacks, and more with enough variety to share with the whole familia.
And trust us: once you’ve taken that first bite of tamarindo, you’ll be transported back to those Sunday afternoons sneaking sweet treats while your dad’s distracted with fútbol — and you’ll remember why Mexican candy is the best!