By Kate Sims
No matter how old we get, we as human beings will never outgrow our love for candy. Whether you like the fruity type, chocolate wafers, natural-based or flavor changers, there is a candy for everyone. And when I say everyone, I mean for people all over the planet. Candy is a key to any new relationship and new experience. Let’s be honest, the most exciting part of learning a new culture is to try their food, and more specific, their treats. What is their Twizzler, Snickers or Jolly Rancher? What candies does the world like best? And how can I taste them in Tampa?
So to begin the hunt, I wanted to look into what the world thought the best candies were. Numerous lists exist, like Thrill List.com, which listed fourteen irresistible sweets from all over the planet. The top three were Cadbury Dairy Milk (chocolate) and Nestle Smarties from the UK, as well as White Rabbit creamy candies from China. Others like Ferrero Kinder (Germany), Meiji Rich strawberry chocolate bar (Japan), and Nidar Krembanan (Norwegian) appeared on multiple lists.
“My favorite is Rittersport,” says Ziona Wright, a UT alumna who lived in Germany for a while. Rittersport is a chocolate bar made up of little chocolate squares that you can snap off with many different types with different fillings. “My favorite is probably the white chocolate with whole hazelnuts but the options are endless. I lived in the town right next to where the factory was and they sold these huge bars from 30-69 cents,” Wright said.. The same chocolates can be found imported at Walgreens for $4, but they lack the filling found in Germany. “It’s a very expensive treat now but I have to have it.” Personally, I have tasted a cinnamon-based candy from Mexico and natural honey hard candies for South Korea (Hansamine). The University of Tampa’s grocer even has Pocky, a Japanese stick biscuit covered in chocolate or strawberry cream.
Now that we have some targets to look for, there are a few places here in Tampa for one to find some foreign flavors. For starters, it’s very likely to find cultural candies in stores all over Tampa that specialize in particular culture, like La Teresita on 3428 West Columbus Drive and the Oriental Market on Fletcher Avenue. For Belgian chocolates, in the International Plaza and Bay off N West Shore Boulevard. is the store called Godiva Chocolatiers. They offer delicacies like assorted personal chocolates, individually-wrapped pieces, and chocolate-covered strawberries. At the Oldsmar Flea Market there is literally a store called Candy From Japan. There’s no question where those candies come from, but their selection includes sushi-shaped candy and wasabi-flavored KitKats. There’s another one that specializes in sweets with its origin in Ethiopia called Toffee to Go. They are located off West Bay to Bay Boulevard.
Tracking down the treats is not the only way to sink your teeth into them. Some say that good things come to those who wait, and for foreign candy, this can be true for importing the item. Luckily, this era brings us the internet, where websites like World of Snacks, can make getting candy from across the board as easy as a mouse click. The time period for the wait will vary for the destination of food originates. For example, I can order Crazy Haribo from Germany in 5-to-10 business days for a package of 200 g for about $10 dollars plus whatever shipping deal you have with Amazon. But with World of Snacks, I can search for their Haribo in stock, where it is at average $3.50 a bag, where shipping varies from a charge of $3.37 for First Class shipping or $8.28 for Business (1-3 days) with USPS. They even offer the purchase of a specialized packaging for chocolates to keep them from melting while shipping.
Where the internet makes it easy for anyone to be a kid in an international candy store, it’s comforting to know that these companies have to work through the Food and Drug Administration and U.S Custom and Border Protections. “Imported food products are subject to FDA inspection when offered for import at U.S. ports of entry,” as clearly stated by the FDA. Watch for the stamp of approval on the websites, and be courageous.
The world has a variety of treats that it can offer to anyone with a curious sweet tooth. Put some culture into your study foods or surprise your friends with a new treat. Do some research, and let your taste buds lead the way, whether it leads you to somewhere in Tampa or to your mailbox. As they say overseas, bon appetit.