Amongst the thrill of a classic American Halloween experience is the elaborateness of costumes, slasher films, and the general spookiness of the season. While Halloween trends tend to come and go, one significant constant remains. Candy continues to be the star of every Halloween event every year, especially when it comes to trick-or-treating. Candy refers to anything from chocolate to chewing gum to lollipops and often signals a special occasion.
Halloween is one particular night where the joys of candy-eating have come to be expected and anticipated. In the 1950s, the custom of giving out sweets and snacks to trick-or-treaters was taken over by candy manufacturers who began to promote their products specifically for Halloween. Since then, the tradition of giving out candy has remained a beloved treat in and of itself for more than just children. While the US is definitely abundant in candies of all types, Halloween can be an interesting time for Latine people as candy offerings rarely include any Latin American options.
From Mexico to Peru to Puerto Rico, candies are an important part of the food culture. They also play a major role in connecting individuals living outside of their native countries to their cultural roots. We savor and enjoy our favorite candies alongside family, but there is also joy in being able to share these gems with people outside of our community who have likely never tried them before. As Halloween approaches, this year we are highlighting some of the most popular candies from five countries across Latin America. This list provides a selection of candy options to enhance your own Halloween candy list, and the best part is that most of these items can be found online or in local cultural stores.
People across Mexico and parts of the US are obsessed with Mexican candy, which is due to the variety of options available. The popularity of Mexican candy generally comes from bold ingredients and flavors that are usually either spicy, salty, or sweet, and in some cases a combination of all three. Tamarindo-based candies are amongst the most favored of Mexican candies, with dozens of brands on the market. Tamarindo is a fruit extract used in many recipes, including candy, that is versatile and pairs well with other sweet and spicy ingredients.
When we think of tamarindo candies, the popular brand Pulparindo comes to mind. These candy bars are made from the pulp of tamarind fruit and other flavors such as sugar, salt, and chili flakes. Several flavor variations of Pulparindo candy exist, including original, xspicy (Extra Spicy), mango, and watermelon. Dulces Vero is another popular brand of Mexican candy that offers a variety pack of their best seller chili lollipop candy treats, which are essentially flavored lollipops covered in mild spicy chili powder. On the saltier side of the flavor scale, Mexico is also known for more traditional candy treats like the classic Mazapan de la rosa, a triple-layered peanut-flavored candy that has a melt-in-your-mouth texture. The wide range of Mexican candy categories makes it easy for anyone to find the right treat for them this Halloween season.
With a rich culinary history, El Salvador is also known for more traditional and sweet candies, or dulces. Unlike some other countries where there is a greater presence of factory manufactured candies, Salvadoran candies are typically handcrafted and incorporate native ingredients into their recipes. These candies are often sold by street vendors or are simply homemade from recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation.
Dulce de nance is at the top of the must-try list of Salvadoran sweets, a candy that is prepared with nance fruit cooked in sugar and water. But while handcrafted candies are a specialty in El Salvador, there are other types of candies that are just as dear to people’s hearts—and sweet tooths. One of these items is the candy Turrones de Fresa by the brand Diana, which is a single wrapped piece of deliciously soft and sweet strawberry flavored nougat.
Puerto Rican candy is heavily influenced by the native flavors of the island, especially fruits like coconut, guayaba, mangos, pineapples, and, of course, dulce de leche. Puerto Rican candy can be classified between traditional sweets and more mainstream products. One of the most popular candy brands is Dulzura Borincana, a gourmet snacking company and manufacturer, who since 1996 has produced some of the country’s most known candy treats. Their bite-sized coconut candy, or dulce de coco, features a twist on the classic recipe that is vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO in individual portions. Dulzura Borincana’s line of sweets and candies also includes Pilones, their own tropical lollipop candy made with fruit conserves, pulp, and seeds—they are typically sold in bags with 24 lollipops in each. Another popular Puerto Rican candy is ajonjoli or dulce de ajonjoli: peanut and sesame seed candy that is sold all over the country by independent vendors and multiple food brands. Ajonjoli candy is described as having a crunchy texture and sweet flavor that makes for a delicious and simple candy treat.
Venezuela is not only known for its wide variety of traditional dishes that vary in combinations and flavors from region to region, but the country is also known for its chocolate products. Venezuelan candies are often referred to as “chucherias,” small and light sweets packed with flavor, and are typically cookies, crunchy bars, chocolate bars, and sometimes even sweet bread. Venezuelan chocolate, which is produced from the cacao tree native to the country, is considered one of the best in the best based on its distinctive high quality. This is the reason why many of the countries most popular candies are chocolate-based, or at least chocolate adjacent.
One of the most popular of the Venezualan chocolates is Savoy Milk Chocolate, which is made with 100% Venezuelan cocoa and melts in your mouth due to its smooth and creamy texture. A practical thing about Savoy Milk Chocolate is that the company is owned by Nestle, so these chocolate bars are readily available for purchase across several online shops. Second on this list is Pirucream, a delightful treat consisting of a rolled wafer cookie filled with chocolate and hazelnuts. Pirucream cookies are popular across Venezuela because of their light and toasty nature.
Also on this list for their popular candy and chocolate contributions is Peru, home of Sublime Chocolate, Chupetes Chapulin, and Caramelos Gajos de Limón. Sublime Chocolate is a well-known candy bar throughout Peru that is made with sweet milk chocolate and Peruvian peanuts. Make sure to look out for these creamy chocolate bars on your next trip to Peru, as they can be difficult to find in the US. Next on the list is Chupete Chapulin Colorado, a lollipop brand across Peru that uses traditional flavors to create these sweet candies. One of their most popular flavors includes chicha morada, inspired by the traditional purple corn drink enjoyed in Peru and other parts of South America. Lastly, Peruvian candies also include fruit-flavored options such as lemon flavor. Caramelos Gajos de Limón is a traditional Peruvian hard candy in the form of fruit sections that are individually wrapped. It is evident that Peruvian candy is just as unique and bright as the diverse culinary makeup of the country.