Citizen Cane

Minty-fresh survey leads off the week in candy news

Published December 11, 2023

It’s a question as old as the existence of candy canes (which, for the record, was 1670, in Cologne): Is there a right way to eat a candy cane?

Last week, the National Confectioners Association released the results of a survey to that end, and 55% of people start with the long straight end. In second place, 28% go curvy part first, and 17% break it into pieces (if you’re doing that, you may as well turn it into Candy Cane Beet Crostini with Goat-Cheese Snow). Lest you wonder, 73% of people would rather stick with classic peppermint, while 27% prefer “fun candy cane flavors.” 

Philosophers are still working on that other age-old question: Is it red with white stripes, or white with red stripes?

Sour Power

In a recent TikTok video with 3 million views, a woman claimed that her therapist told her to stave off panic attacks by eating a Warhead as soon as she feels one coming on. Well, it’s now been confirmed by the professionals: Mental health counselor Catherine Del Toro tells USA Today, “There is definitely truth and science behind eating sour or spicy candy to ease anxiety and panic attacks.”

@taylor.talking Oof #anxiety #mentalhealth #mentalhealthmatters ♬ original sound – TalkingTaylor

It’s like this: When our amygdala triggers a fight-or-flight response, panic ensues. But when you eat something spicy or sour (or EXTREME SOUR, like Warheads), it grounds you in the moment, stops the fear from spiraling, and sends a message to your brain that you are not in danger. The panic attack then slows in intensity, and eventually stops.   

There are other ways to interrupt panic attacks: touching your thumb to each finger, yoga, crafting, deep breathing, and other mindfulness exercises. Warheads might not be quite as effective, but they are easier to carry in your pocket.

Licorice Rising

The black licorice market is growing, expecting to uphold a compound annual growth rate close to 30 percent through 2033 – as opposed to 23.4 for other licorice products. It’s a surprising turn of events for the polarizing candy. In fact, apparently people love it so much that companies are expanding beyond the traditional, nostalgic licorice candies to include offerings of “unique and diverse experiences to attract new customers and meet the demands of licorice candy enthusiasts.” (yay?)

But before these “enthusiasts” get into a fiery debate about it, you should know that black-licorice aversion may be something you’re born with, like the genetic component that makes some people hate cilantro. Or they may just be concerned about their health: It’s known to interact with some medications, and eating more than 2 oz. per day – especially if you are over 40 or have a history of heart disease – may lead to potentially serious health problems.

But still, hooray capitalism!


Bonus Brief: The Nasty List

Apparently candy and surveys just go together, because Candystore.com polled 7,000 grinches to find out people’s least-favorite Christmas candies. The 2023 results:

10. Peppermint Bark

9. Chocolate Oranges

8. Life Savers Story Books

7. Old-fashioned hard candies 

6. Ribbon Candy

5. Peeps

4. Candy Canes that aren’t peppermint flavored

3. Cherry Cordials

2. Christmas Nougat 

1. Reindeer corn

This is the first time we’ve ever even heard of “reindeer corn”… but then, as a rule we don’t spend a whole lot of time walking behind reindeer.

Happy holidays!



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