On April 30, México celebrates Día del Niño, or Children’s Day. While children are celebrated every day of the year in this wonderful country, Día de Niño is their official day. What better day, then, to offer your kids all the candy to try?
Forget cavities and dentist bills just for one second, for this is a cultural day and a cultural experiment: haven’t you long wondered about all the options you see in the candy aisle? Haven’t you wondered how spicy spicy candy is, and how kids manage it? Here you can look like an indulgent parent while actually learning something together.
When we first moved to Mérida, it only took around a month for us to decide we wanted to try this fiery-sugary-stuff. We began when the kids were two and four and never looked back. One kid, like me, has become a spicy candy fiend; the other doesn’t choose to eat it, but if it’s all that is on offer he won’t refuse, because, well, sugar is sugar.
With my now much older kids I decided we needed a formal sit-down tasting menu of candy, so I visited a few Tienditas and supermarkets and picked out a variety of candies: some spicy, some traditional, some fun. I laid them all out on a tray and we sat around the table as a family and took our time trying each candy option. (My kids are entirely used to me insisting they try random foods and adventures and barely batted an eyelid)
Pelón Pelo Rico. My daughter’s favourite. There are various flavours but the original is a spicy tamarind. You squeeze up a sticky gooey mess through small holes in hard plastic. Always a winner in the piñata rush.
Skwinkles Salsagheti. Again, there are various flavours, but the most common is watermelon; it comes with a spicy salsa you can dip them in.
Chile-covered fruit. Available as artisan-made or mass-produced. My preference is for mango but there are many other options too. This is a total win with everyone everywhere.
Banderillas (spicy tamarind sticks). Usually to be found hanging out in your Michelada as a delicious addition that many kids will just liberate and gobble up.
Obleas. Two pieces of very thin papery (wheat-based) substance stuck together with Dulce de Leche or Cajeta. An interesting mix of savoury and sweet well worth your time.
Mazapán de la Rosa. Even for non-marzipan-eaters like me, Mexican Mazapán, made with peanuts rather than almonds, is actually pretty good. These will crumble as you take the first bite so warn everyone to be careful.
Editorial by Cassie Pearse
Freelance writer and blogger, born in the UK. Cassie has a BA from Oxford University and an MA from SOAS, University of London. She lives in Mérida and loves exploring Yucatán with her family.
Photography by Cassie Pearse for its use in Yucatán Today.
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