Grocery Ninja: Russian Blood Candy, Just in Time for Halloween


In my United Nations of a household, the Halloween tradition is for the housemates to contribute to a giant candy stash—so we have a pool of unusual, globetrotting candy to offer the neighbors’ kids. This year, I was ready to break out my childhood fave—chewy, milky, nougaty Chinese White Rabbit candy. But in September, four babies died and thousands of people got sick after drinking melamine-tainted milk from China. Tons of milk-containing products were recalled, and I had to feed my beloved White Rabbits to the trash.

My housemates joke that I should have kept the candy and put them in a bowl with a sign that reads: Beware, Poisoned Apples. But I haven’t quite the same sick sense of humor. Instead, I’m going to be offering a confection that’s way cooler than toxic White Rabbits—Russian caramels made from real cow’s blood.

Called Gematogenka, these sweet, chewy caramels are made from sugar, molasses, lecithin, salt, hemoglobin, and a bunch of vitamins. I was expecting an iron aftertaste (like drinking from a rusty cooler), but with the exception of some gritty-ness, there’s absolutely nothing bizarre-tasting about them. Not even an “off” smell. In fact, from its shiny, rainbow wrapper, to the happy, brawny, bird-man mascot emblazoned on it, everything about this chocolate colored candy reeks of innocence. Apparently, it is Russia’s equivalent to gummy bear vitamins —a treat to trick kids into taking supplements so that they grow tall and strong (like the bird-man mascot).

A “biologically active” food, these blood caramels are widely available in pharmacy candy aisles in Russia, and commonly used to treat anemia. In the States, you’ll find them in Russian groceries around Brooklyn, NY, or online. Each pack contains five individually-wrapped, completely unremarkable-looking tabs of candy—perfect for treating squeamish housemates to.