Product Type: Panda Sweets
Newest Review: ... of a panda on it; given how many foods have pictures of the contents on it did make me briefly wonder if it contained REAL PANDA extract ... more
Panda licorice. Made from real raspberries not real pandas.
Panda Blueberry Soft Liquorice Bars
Member Name: beckyX
Panda Blueberry Soft Liquorice Bars
Date: 17/08/10, updated on 03/06/11 (412 review reads)
Advantages: Vegan, sugary, tasty
Disadvantages: Not healthy, not good for you
This dooyoo product "Panda licorice" is a generic term for all Panda licorice brands that actually covers a wide range of different flavours and forms. The one I'd like to focus in this review is the one true and best form: raspberry licorice logs. Don't be put off by the icon for this product that has a misleading picture of the nasty black licorice form and pay even less attention to the caption that insinuates that the black licorice is the real taste of licorice - in my opinion, it's not, for reasons that will become apparent in the "Flavour" section of the review.
The raspberry licorice bars are vegan friendly (hurrah!) though the rest of you shouldn't worry, it's basically a nice big bar of unhealthy sugar, so it's still safe for you to eat with minimal risk that you'll be tempted to start wearing socks with your sandals and eat hummous and beansprouts the whole time. The store had several other varieties which weren't vegan, so do be sure to check carefully if you're bothered by that sort of thing.
This 32g bar cost me 49p and came from the local wholefood co-operative that I score so many of my junktastic afternoon sugar-hits from. And then I wonder why I need to visit weightwatchers. Amazing eh, that health food stores stock unhealthy food too? I found it a bit pricey compared to the big bags of licorice, but that's still OK because it's a)cheaper than a chocolate bar from the machine and b)if I bought a big bag, I'd eat a big bag, so it's really saving me from myself. This log is about four inches long and is a solid tube of licorice about half an inch thick which makes it good for an afternoon snack.
The bar itself states proudly that it "Contains Real RASPBERRY" (sic). As opposed to fake raspberry? Surreal raspberry? Uncapitalised raspberry? And it is ALL NATURAL. None of those nasty supernatural products here! It also has a picture of a panda on it; given how many foods have pictures of the contents on it did make me briefly wonder if it contained REAL PANDA extract too (Apparently no. That would be wrong, pandas are endangered. And it wouldn't be vegan.)
For those of you who like licorice, it will come as no surprise to you that licorice is delicious and fabulous and so unsurprising that this bar is actually pretty nice. However, for those of you who (like me) think that aniseed is the devil's own regurgitation and always assumed (like I did) that you must hate ALL licorice simply because black licorice is so unutterably foul, it may be surprising to know that you won't necessarily hate this. You see, black licorice does actually not taste of licorice root: it tastes strongly of aniseed; real licorice root tastes entirely different, so as long as you steer clear of the nasty black ick, you stand a fair chance of getting something tasty. I had always wondered why I thought that licorice and aniseed were so similar in flavour and it turns out that anise flavourings is what puts the ICK into black lICKorice, and thus why it tastes like sugared poison whereas raspberry licorice tastes nice.
The raspberry bar that I'm reviewing doesn't in my opinion actually taste anything like either licorice, aniseed or raspberry: it tastes of molasses. What a hardship eh? How will I manage to eat the whole bar that tastes so wonderfully sugary? (Answer:sadly all too easily)
Texture-wise, it's reminiscent of a slightly grainy kind of toffee. It has a bit of a chewy bite to it, but it won't pull your fillings out. It will, however, get stuck nicely in your teeth and leave them coated with sugar, which is not so good news for your teeth. Colour-wise, it's a bit of a muted off-red colour, something I'm fairly pleased about because I hate brightly coloured food because so often it's full of coal tar dyes which are terrible for asthmatics.
What, just because it comes from a health food store, you expect it to be healthy? Uh huh, doesn't work like that. This bar contains 98kcal (5% of your recommended amount says the label). But as the label proudly states, no fat. That's because as previously stated, it's pretty much a big ol' bar of sugar. It also states that it has no preservatives which the inner science dork in me wants to contest - it's full of sugar and sugar is, after all, one of the best preservatives around. I guess under labelling regulations "preservatives" means something entirely different. It has no artificial colourings (which is good news for asthmatics) nor any artificial flavourings. Of course though, it's always good to check what NATURAL colourings and flavourings something has - "natural" doesn't always mean "good for you" - after all, belladonna is natural, but I for one won't be eating any of that!
Per 100g, it has 307kcal, 3.6g protein, 72g carbohydrates (50g sugar), 0.4g fat (0.0g saturated fat), 0.9g fibre and 0.1g sodium. So I guess that "fat free" is something controlled by regulations rather than by the overliteral interpretation I would have assumed.
The ingredients are molasses, wheat flour, raspberry puree, citric acid, natural flavourings, black carrot juice concentrate and licorice extract. Seems odd that the licorice is at the bottom of the ingredients eh when this is a licorice bar? But that's pretty much normal for all the licorice I've had. And I was intrigued by the black carrot juice ingredient - I don't think I've ever seen a black carrot except when they've gone seriously rotten, but apparently black carrots are a special form and the extract is what gives the bar its red colouring. You live and learn eh?
What is it about words with alternate spellings that means it always seem to cause arguments amongst my friends that have absolutely nothing to do with anything ever?! Do I just need new friends? Anyway, I personally favour the spelling "liquorice" over "licorice" (purely because it contains the word liquor which makes for better puns), but the wrapper of the bar is absolutely clear on its spelling, so I'm using the boring version. Anyway, I know some of you wince when the US/UK spelling (delete as appropriate) is used, so I thought I'd better explain my choice.
===Possible health benefits===
Disclaimer: I've no medical training myself and I've not done much reading around of the latest published papers, but licorice is something that my doctor actually recommended to me as being good for my asthma and good for stomach upsets and acid reflux because some of the active ingredients relax the smooth muscles in my lungs and gut. So I gave it a go. When drinking licorice root tea, I did observe that my peak flow (a measure of how well my lungs worked) went up by somewhere between 5 and 10 percent above its usual maximum (quite an impressive amount!). However, sadly, licorice sweets didn't have enough licorice in to do a thing. But they did taste nice, and I got to eat lots of sweets when I tried it, so it wasn't all bad.
On the downside, the same doctor did warn me that the glycyrrhetinic acid in the licorice that makes it good for the asthma sends your blood pressure through the roof, so it's rubbish as a long term treatment. However, I figure that a little bit of the real stuff now and then when I have a cold won't hurt me any worse than the six giant mugs of coffee I drink every day. Everything in moderation including moderation eh?
It's a sugary bar. It's not healthy, it's not big and it's not clever. But it is quite tasty, even for people who hate black licorice. I will probably be buying this brand again, but only when I can't get any RJs (this is a famous New Zealand brand of licorice which is much more raspberry in flavour and my preferred brand).
Summary: Stick to raspberry licorice; deny the evil black licorice!
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