Nora: Mexican Snacks
What it is: Walk into any Californian bodega, random rest stop off of the 5, or Southwestern Save-a-Lot, and you’ll see a display of candies you may not have seen before. Ranging from slabs of fudgy dulce de leche to lollipops, Mexican candy often focuses on the caramel-y and tropical flavors. Big ones are tamarind, dulce de leche, and mango, along with knock-off hohos and doughnuts provided by our beloved Bimbo Bakeries. On the savory side of things expect spice, some kind of fake cheese, and false-alarm pregnancy tests.
Why you should eat it: I developed a taste for Mexican candy living in LA, and hadn’t quite understood how much I missed various forms of congealed mango covered in msg and chili powder until I hit up a Save-a-lot in Denver. Torn between the traditional lollipop form and a new creation called “Mango Burrito,” I ended up sinking my teeth into a tough, chili-covered outer layer into a soft puree that served as a vaguely repulsive filling. I love seeing the ways different cultures handle desserts (fried coconut milk, anyone?) on a traditional and junk-food level. Trader Joe (Jose?) tries to recreate the spicy mango experience, but don’t trust it. Get to a bodega, choose whatever form of processed mango you desire, and maybe some Sabor de Soledad while you’re at it.
If you’re feeling lazy or don’t have access, these San Diego fellows have come up with my personal favorite business model of all time. They go on vacation, pick up a bunch of snacks, and sell them as a mail-away service. It’s like those curated wine subscriptions, except with two surfers choosing your munchies so you can enjoy a higher level of credibility at a lower level of pretension. But really, try something weird and new because you might just obsess about it for the next five years of your life.