Head to Pilsen for an eclectic mix of candies with flavors including tamarind and goat's-milk caramel.
Before even taking a bite of Mexican candies, know this: There is little middle ground, no tolerance for subtleties, no mere touch of sugar or hint of heat. Whether spicy, sweet, sour or all three, both traditional and contemporary Mexican candies pack massive heat. We’d suggest grabbing a little plastic basket at Dulcería Lupitas (1730 W 18th St, 312-226-9260) and filling it with whatever looks good to you. But if you’re one of those people who must know what you’re eating, here’s a bit of detail on what’s in store.
* = Critics’ pick
1. Piña loca Pineapple-flavored lollipop with a chile-powder kick
2. Vaquita café latte Coffee-flavored milk toffee
3. Vaquita ricanuez Pecan-flavored milk toffee
4. * Rebanadas de mango con chile Mango slices, sweetened, dried and dusted with chile powder
5. Cocadas Dense, chewy, macaroon-like sweets with a toasted bottom
6. Dulce de cacahuate Dense-but-crumbly peanut candy in a style often called mazapan (marzipan)
7. Paleta sabor tamarindo cubiertas de chile “Tamarind-flavored lollipop coated in chile”; equal parts tart and spicy
8. Banderilla de coco Coconut candy bar dyed in the colors of the Mexican flag
9. * Paleta de cajeta Lollipop of goat’s-milk caramel
10. Paleta sabor chamoy relleno con chile Literally, “chamoy-flavored lollipop filled with chile.” Chamoy is a term used for sauces or flavorings that are salty, spicy and sweet all at once. Basically, this sucker sums up the majority of Mexican candy.
11. Mui-Bon Hazelnut cream–filled wafer cookie coated with peanuts and “chocolate flavor” (real chocolate isn't common in Mexican candy stores, so as with most “chocolate flavor” candies, it’s actually sugar, palm oil and cocoa powder)
12. Jamoncillo or dulce de leche Milk and sugar cooked into a brown, thick, fudgelike consistency; intensely sweet
13. * Pica pepino Cucumber-flavored lollipop with a chile-powder kick
14. Cacahuates estilo Japonés “Japanese-style peanuts,” i.e., peanuts coated in a sweetened candy shell that’s flavored with soy sauce and chile powder
15. Obleas con cajeta Goat’s-milk caramel sandwiched between paper-thin wafers
16. Jilotes Corn-shaped lollipops with no real corn flavor but a tart, caramelized corn-syrup taste coated in chile powder
17. Canel’s The Mexican version of Chiclets—crunchy-coated chewing gum in flavors of fruit, spearmint, peppermint and cinnamon
18. Paleta pollito Literally “little chicken lollipop,” in reality, a chicken-shaped lollipop vaguely peach- and pineapple-flavored but predominantly spicy and sour
19. Cajeta de guayaba Sweet, somewhat tart guava paste