It’s a Wonderful(ly Sweet) World: Halva Finnish Filled Licorice

halva-finnish-filled-liquorice-fruit-flavours-200gr-box-zhv703-1067-pThere is certainly both a determined sweetness and solidity to this Finnish candy (lakritsi in Finnish). The label tells me this is called “black gold” in Finland but a cursory scan of search engine results failed to corroborate this. It is an enigmatic candy that, despite the name, has no black licorice taste to it. This may account for the description on the box:

While the precise connection between Finland and licorice remains a mystery, Finnish licorice has grown to be an institution in Europe.

A paragraph further, I believe the allure and mystery of licorice may have caused the writer to get a little carried away:

Our dedication to making the best licorice in the world, known in Finland as “black gold,” has led us to develop creative ways of improving our production efficiency. Today, Finland has the most advanced equipment on the market and we are able to meet the word-wide demand of our beautiful products!

So please join us in the wonderful world of licorice and help yourself to a box! Free your senses and savor the taste of our sweet product. Join us and become a true licorice enthusiast.

Clearly a candy of the modern people, there is no mention of Fair Trade chocolate, ethically sourced cacao, or non-GMO on the ingredient list. It does contain gluten. A package is 200 grams, which is 704 calories or about 16 calories per sugary little bombshell (44 per package).

Picture of a bowl of Halva Finnish Fruit licorice.Jacketed in licorice as black as a fresh tire and just as rubbery, the contents of the individual sweets can be determined by color and provides a brief lesson in Finnish flavor words as well as just how sweet things can get.

  • Apple (Omena/green) has a perfumey apple-ness to it reminiscent of the incense aisle of a Pier One in the seventies, which is at first pleasant if only for nostalgia’s sake, then fades into candy cigarette. Soon afterward the licorice outer shell becomes tiny sugary tire shreds in one’s mouth. Would eat again if desperate and on a road trip with no other options.
  • Chocolate (Suklaa/brown) is extremely sweet, and I say this as someone who will admit to liking Marshmallow peeps, but lovers of chocolate Necco wafers will find this flavor hauntingly familiar. Filling has a consistency somewhere between chalk and fine grit that does not go badly with the Necco association. I do like Neccos and would eat again if a friend offered it.
  • Lemon (Sitruuna/yellow) has a nice citron flavor that actually complements the exterior in a way that makes it feel less rubbery. Would eat again if a friend offered it and I wanted to avoid hurting their feelings.
  • Strawberry (Mansikka/pink) tastes genuinely fruity at first and then your tastebuds scream oh god its a trick and you’re lost somewhere in a sugar daze. Would eat again if…well, probably not.

About Cat Rambo

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches atop a hill in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov’s, Clarkesworld Magazine, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and the first two books of the Tabat Quartet, Beasts of Tabat and Hearts of Tabat. She is an Endeavour, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award nominee. Among her nonfiction works are a travel guide to Baltimore, a cookbook, highly opinionated essays, and the book Creating an Online Presence for Writers. She once won a hula contest judged by Neil Gaiman. For more about her, as well as links to her fiction, see here.