While some need the pep of an afternoon cup of joe, I used to have a midday addiction to Atomic Fireballs. But inside that hard red candy there's a fleeting cinnamon heat that disappears into blandness sooner than I'd like. What's a way better choice? Spicy lollipops speckled with chiles, which contain a continual explosion of sugary fire. Don't make the mistake of newbies, who sometimes underestimate the power of these candies. According to Kathy Mitchell, accounts manager for the Grover, California-based Hotlix, "When we're at trade shows with the lollipops, some people try them and then say their mouths are burning off." Don't say we didn't warn you--here's a rundown of our favorites.
Hotlix makes a variety of hot 'pops. The sugar-free Chililix wins the award for best-looking, with a curvy pepper shape and a clear tone studded with a whole dried chile and a sprinkling of chile flakes. It's sweet with a tingly heat once your tongue hits the chiles. The Jalapeño 'pop takes things up a notch, with grassy undertones, medium heat, and pure pepper flavor. Our favorite by far is the Habanero, a hot seller for the company because it captures the essence of hab flavor and packs an addictive heat.
These large lollipops are smooth, glossy and gorgeous--we can see why they're categorized as "gourmet." The Mango-Chili is full of sweet mango goodness. The Chili-Lime is very sweet and refreshingly milder. What's quirky about both these lollipops is that there's a slight spiciness at the end of the lick from chili powder and cumin accents. The Hot Cinnamon lollipop is different from other cinnamon candies with its mellower, less assertive cinnamon flavor, along with a slight kiss of apple.
Don't be put off by the brown hue of this "true mango" chile-shaped candy from Mexico. It proves to be a candy like no other, with an explosion of saltiness and sourness, followed by a twinge of heat. This is made for salt fiends, but also provides a little fruitiness with a taste of guava to round out the tropical goodness of the mango.
Tabasco's rectangular block of shiny Hot Cinnamon Candy is the most similar to an Atomic Fireball, only with stronger cinnamony action. But are we the only ones who might have enjoyed a splash of Tabasco thrown in there?
Organic candy has never tasted so good, and this one was the hands-down favorite at our office. Both flavors had the perfect amount of heat--not too much, not too little. The Chili Lime Lambada is a rush of lime and a surge of fire; an excellent balance. The Chili Mango Mambo has a little less heat and a tad more tartness. Its mango flavor is good all-around, with the added deliciousness of spice. What is it about that marvelous marriage of mango and chiles?
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