The licorice plant is a perennial herbaceous plant native to southern Europe and parts of Asia and India and has been used in sweets and sweeteners for centuries. Countries that currently produce licorice include India, Iran, Italy, Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, and Iraq. In the Netherlands, licorice drops are one of the most popular forms of candy and have been valued for thousands of years for dozens of purposes, including a remedy for leaky gut, coughs, and colds. Its uses date back to ancient Egypt, where it was made into a drink to cure digestive problems, after boiling the root and adding liquid to it. It is still frequently found throughout the world in herbal teas.
Naturally sweet and easy to grow, it has been recognized for its therapeutic value in helping to relieve pain, irritable bowel, joint pain, sore throat, heartburn, and even an antioxidant. Although excessive use of licorice can be harmful, it is highly unlikely that someone would ingest enough of it to be a problem. It came to America via Great Britain, and since licorice has been a long-time favorite around the world, it didn’t go unnoticed by early candy makers, who began introducing it to satisfy the growing sweet tooth. from the United States in the late 19th century:
Good & Plenty – The oldest branded candy, featured in 1893 in its distinctive box of pink and white candies, identified with its trademark character “Choo-Choo Charlie” on early television shows, and one of the movie theater favorites; the children loved to ring those boxes and disturb the other spectators;
Black Crows gum drops also date back to the late 1890s;
Giggle Jelly Candies – Five flavors in a package that included a piece of licorice, introduced in 1921;
Mix of Assorted Licorice and Swizzle Sticks – It’s fun to chew and stretch, chewing licorice root was used in African countries for centuries as a means of cleaning teeth;
Black jelly beans: everyone has a favorite flavor, and many prefer black ones first;
Smith Bros. cough drops – first brand introduced in 1847 and a hit with their signature package featuring two bearded gentlemen sadly out of business now; (the wild cherry flavor came later)
Black Jack Gum – 1884 a gum maker named Thomas Adams began adding licorice flavoring to his gum, calling his creation Adams’ Black Jack, the first flavored gum in the United States. It was also the first gum to be offered in sticks; (not popular anymore, but still available)
Not as popular as it was a century ago, licorice still draws a loyal following, especially among fans of chewy, hard candy. Aside from the fact that it can make your teeth and gums gray, it still has a definite monitoring. It’s one of those flavors that you like or don’t like, and it’s practically limited to sweets. Licorice ice cream and cookies don’t seem to show up anywhere, but that’s fine for those who love it. And Choo-Choo Charlie may be gone, but his legend lives on. It is good and filling without a doubt.