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I've been a teacher for nigh-on fifteen years, so I've learned the importance of protecting my voice. I've always been careful to drink plenty of water between classes, but around ten years ago I had the first of many bouts of laryngitis. Add to that the fact I'm asthmatic (which gives me a persistant cough) and a reliable, fast-acting throat lozenge is essential.
A friend introduced me to Ricola soon after I started having throat problems. Unlike all the other throat lozenges I've tried (a) they're not stuffed with sugar and (b) they stop coughs and soothe sore throats gosh-darn immediately.
Ricola is a Swiss brand of herbal throat drops. They come in a variety of flavours, all of which are available in three pack options: bags of individually wrapped rugby-ball shaped drops; tubes of individually wrapped square lozenges; and small cardboard boxes of loose oval-shaped lozenges. This last type I term the 'cigarette pack' design, and it's my preferred packaging as the box fits easily into my handbag. Also I've discovered that the individually-wrapped drops can go gooey once exposed to air, which doesn't happen in the 'cigarette pack'.
The elderflower flavoured Ricolas are my favourite. They come in purple packaging. Like most Ricola varieties they are sugar-free and made from a mix of Swiss herbs. They have a very pleasant taste and smell gently perfumed, which I love.
Ricola is the only brand of throat lozenge I've found which works consistently and instantly.
Ricola availabillity ebbs and flows. Larger Boots stores sold them for many years but don't seem to carry them any more. Holland & Barrett sell them in all branches, but can be expensive unless they're part of a multibuy deal. I usually bulk-buy mine in Savers, the discount toiletry store, which get them in from time to time and sell them for around 60p a box.
Whenever I have a persistant tickly cough I suck a Ricola and find that almost every time I get instant relief. Very occasionally I will need a second lozenge. I use them whilst teaching, and also keep some by my bed to relieve coughs in the middle of the night.
Sometimes a drink of water is enough to ease my throat, but if not I find that Ricola lozenges do the job. They have saved me a great deal of stress and discomfort over the years.
Since discovering Ricola I've always carried a box of them in my handbag at all times, and I've probably given away as many lozenges as I've used myself. Since they're sugar-free and contain mainly herbs very few dietary restrictions preclude using them.
Ricola lozenges do contain aspartame, which I know many people prefer to avoid. Also they contain phenylalanine which can have a laxative effect if consumed in large doses! Since I only ever need to eat one (or at most two) Ricolas at a time I've never had an issue with this laxative effect, but it's probably best to treat them as a medicine rather than a nice-tasting sweet.
===One For The Bag===
I have the kind of throat that seems to get irritated and scratchy quite easily - often for no particular reason that I can see. It tends to start me coughing and then I feel a bit embarrassed. For this reason I often have a small pack of sugar-free mints in my handbag, so that I can ease the tickle in my throat quickly if I need to. There's also the advantage of having something to hand to freshen my breath when out and about. I think I've stuck to mints out of habit and upbringing - my father is known locally as 'the polo man' because he offers them around quite randomly, usually when being served in a shop.
===Buying on Impulse===
I was doing a little shopping in Sainsbury's this week, and it was a little; I'd mainly gone for a change of scenery in the dark, cold weather to be honest. I spotted these Ricola sweets at the checkout and bought them on an impulse. Why on that occasion I have no idea. I'd seen them often enough before and not bought. I think maybe it was the elderflower that did it, as I'm quite fond of elderflower cordial and champagne, sometimes making my own in the summer and I know what a delightful, refreshing taste it can have. The pack was £0.65 for 45g - more expensive than a mint equivalent from Aldi, certainly, but affordable once in a while, I felt.
===Painting a Picture with Words===
Looking at the purple packet, I found myself slightly amused by the way the sweet's makers applaud their own product; no adjectives spared here! I give you: delicious, mouthwatering, great tasting, long-lasting, 'the fresh pure air of the beautiful and tranquil Swiss mountains' - and so on. So they believe in their product. I don't have the benefit of having experienced those Swiss mountains but it does paint me a mental picture. By the way, it's quite a handy packet, made from card of a standard thickness, I would say. I don't know how well it will last amongst all the other free-floating items in my handbag, but we will see. There's a flap at the top that functions as a close-fitting lid, so I think the sweets will stay in the container as long as it holds together.
The front has the brand name at the top - actually on the lid part. After 'Mouthwateringly Good Herbal Sweets' we have 'Delicious Elderflower Sugar Free', followed by a photo of a sweet. There's a pictorial border of flowers, the largest of which I clearly recognise as elderflower. On the reverse there is a kind of Swiss meadow scene. A lot of the wording from the front is repeated, but this time I see that they are 'sugar free with sweeteners'. Well I suppose they have to be sweetened with something, or they'd hardly be sweets, but I wonder if this wouldn't have been better on the front, too. I'm no expert on sweeteners but I'm not sure all can claim to be natural, either. I didn't know that the 'secret behind Ricola's great taste is the famous blend of 13 herbs' and expected to find them listed somewhere, being interested in the cultivation and use of herbs.
===A Bit Lax Of Them!===
I do like the very clear calorie and other content information - 2.5g sweet = 6 calories, 0.3% RDA; everything else is zero. You can recycle the packet; the product is suitable for vegetarians and is Tooth Friendly Tested [a new one on me]. The bar code and contact details are on one side - although there is no telephone number either for UK or ROI, the addresses are given and the Ricola website is listed. The Best Before date is on the bottom of the packet. The other side panel has a long and comprehensive ingredients and nutritional information list. I won't go into great detail, other than to say that the ingredients in the herb mix aren't listed, so maybe they're a secret formula! There seems to be quite a bit of lemon juice in them; the sweeteners are aspartame and acesulfame-K, there's menthol in them, too, as well as sweet potato and carrot. I wonder if they give the colouring. Beneath all that there's a warning that you shouldn't consume more than 10 sweets in 1-2 hours [advised] as they contain a source of phenylalanine, which can induce a laxative effect if you over-indulge! Also they're made in a nut-free environment. Now you may think I'm being over-critical, but bear in mind that this is in tiny script on a panel about 7cm long x 2 wide; even using reading glasses it was hard to pick out. I would have thought this should have been given more prominence on either the front or back cover, and some of the repetitions of how wonderful it is scaled down to make room!
===The Taste Test===
The sweet itself is a translucent lozenge, pale orange in colour and with an 'R' embossed into it. I work out that there's about 16 in a pack. These are definitely what I would class as sucking sweets: I'm not in the least tempted to crunch or chew them. I can taste the elderflower pretty quickly, but other flavours come through quite strongly, too. I'm aware of menthol as there's a slight warmth, and something that I can only describe as 'herbal', as lame as that sounds, because I really can't distinguish other flavours clearly. I would say that what we have here is a blend of elderflower and other flavours, rather than elderflower as the star supported by other cast members. I do find, though, that for me it's the elderflower flavour that lingers at the end - and these sweets do last a long time for me.
I do like these. I'm not wowed by them, but I do find them very pleasant and a change from mints. I appreciate being able to find a more unusual flavour like elderflower. I would repurchase them, though I'm not sure how often, really because I'm not convinced they fully replace that need of mine to carry mints around; it wouldn't be a straight swap. I think I shall look out for other tempting flavours by Ricola, too. I know some people are cautious about artificial sweeteners and aspartame in particular, and while I don't fully understand the science [or lack of it?] behind those concerns I can see the sweeteners might deter some people from purchasing. I'm not concerned about the possible laxative effect as I can't see myself getting through 10 in a couple of hours. However I do think Ricola should re-examine some of their priorities on their packaging. With these slight reservations in mind I rate this as a four-star product. I think they are worth a try if elderflower appeals to you, but don't expect elderflower to be a dominant flavour.
Thank you for reading my review. It may be posted on other sites.
©Verbena March 2013
When it comes to sweets they are really not something that I'm really into to be honest. However I bought these after coming out of the gym as I felt I needed something sweet and tasty after my induction and I didn't want anything riddled with sugar or anything like that to undo all my hard work lol.
These cost me 65p in my local Tesco store and I bought them as they were being handed out to taste test and I really liked them, it was as simple as that really!
They come in a purple cardboard box with a fold over style lid to them and on the front of them we are clearly told that they are Rocola 'Mouthwateringly Good Swiss Herbal Sweets' and that I have the 'Delicious Elderflower, Sugar Free' Variety and there is a picture shown of one of the sweets and then little pictures shown of herbal flowers then on the back and sides of the box we are told a bit about the sweets, an at a glance nutritional chart is shown, we are told that they weight 45g in total, ingredients and a full nutritional breakdown is given and contact details for the manufacturer are listed. Nice packaging this is.
Oval, thick and like an orangy see through colour each sweet is a rather large size with a fancy R engraved into it. They don't really have any fragrance to them but taste....well they have that in abundance and I love them!
Although these contain no sugar they do contain artificial sweeteners but honestly they don't taste that way! They taste really naturally sweet to me though very sweet and really as I would imagine elderflower to taste like and I'm going on cordials I have drank in the past and the likes! They taste fresh and full of flavour and really juicy and refreshing and leave no aftertaste in the mouth after consumption either and if you crunch them they do just that....crunch though of course you can be patient and just suck them till they melt... as I try to do!
They only contain natural colours and flavours and apparently a whopping 13 herbs per sweet though we are not told what they are so not only are they meant to taste really nice but be good for us too, just a shame I don't know what they are how they are meant to benefit me and at only 6 calories per 2.5g of sweet (a whole sweet) and with 0g of sugar, fat or sodium I can be sure they are not gonna make me any fatter than what I already am so they are an indulgent treat I can indulge without guilt!
Available in all good supermarkets!
This review is also posted on Ciao under this same username.
Ricola Elderflowers or Fleurs De Sureau is without doubt the best sweet lozenge or bonbon that you will ever taste. They are admittedly not cheap and once you're into them, a £1.50 packet of 18 doesn't last long.
The swiss have definitely hit the jackpot with with this flavour combination. The packet says that it contains 13 herbs and I personally think that if any single one wasn't there then the sweets just wouldn't be as good.
Nutritionally they are neither bad not good for you. You couldn't live off them (but if you could then I would) but they don't really do any damage. Each sweet contains 6 calories and thats about it. Thats only 108 calories per pack and its well worth the taste sensation.
Ricola are also sugar free which is great for your teeth and they have no artificial colours or flavours, "so why do they look and taste sooo good!?"
These are great sweets for having on a chair-lift while skiing because they really capture the essence of the swiss alps. I love them and I just can't get enough.
I'm a big fan of Ricola's products, so I was excited to see this variety stocked at my local supermarket. I've always loved the taste of elderflower, so I bought two packs straight away.
They taste delicious, but not exactly as I expected. The addition of the Ricola herbal mixture and a lot of sweetness transforms the delicate, floral taste of elderflower into something that more closely resembles lychee. On the other hand, I love lychees as well, so I'd happily buy these again. They are sharp, beautifully scented and long-lasting. They are not cheap, but Ricola is a premium brand and definitely worth the price. They are sugar free; usually I find sugar-free sweets to have an unpleasant taste or texture, but with these you truly can't tell the difference, which is wonderful.
They come in a 50g box which is stuffed full of of the oval lozenges, so even one box should last a few days!
My favourites are still the cranberry flavour (try them, do!) but I highly recommend these as well.
For relief of sore throats / The secret of Ricolas unique taste is due to the famous mixture of thirteen herbs / Ricolas herbs are grown in the beautiful and tranquil mountains of Switzerland / The herbs are all cultivated in carefully selected locations guaranteeing the best quality and the purity of all the herbs / Ricola use only the finest ingredients with no artificial colours or flavours.