When exploring a foreign country, there’s perhaps no easier way to take a crash course in local culture than by perusing the drugstore candy aisle, which can speak volumes about the palate and aesthetic of a place — plus, surprising sweets make the best souvenirs. In the age of internet shopping, of course, you can recreate that experience from the comfort of your own home. So take a break from Big Candy, and try some German “cat tongues” or New Zealand Pineapple Lumps.
Pulparindo De La Rosa Candy Bar
From Mexico, Pulparindo, one of many forms of spicy, sour, salty sweets made from tamarind pulp and chili. This one resembles a miniature, individually wrapped fruit leather — though slightly thicker and less stretchy — with a satisfyingly gritty texture, and a serious kick of heat.
Pascall Pineapple Lumps
From New Zealand, the sweetie known as Pascall Pineapple Lumps: soft chews flavored with real pineapple juice and coated in chocolate, likened by many to Charleston Chews in terms of texture.
Fazer Tyrkisk Peber
From Finland, Turkish-pepper-flavored hard candies with a soft, insanely salty, astringent licorice filling known as salmiak.
Pingvin Hexenheuler Salmiak
More salmiak, different Scandinavian country. In this Danish version, it comes in the form of a paste, which is encased in a more familiar gummy tube of sweet black licorice, then coated in salt.
Rademaker Hopjes Coffee Candy
From the Netherlands, coffee-flavored hard candies both beloved by children and often recommended for staying awake on long drives, or for slogging through a slow workday.
Waldbaur Chocolate Cat Tongues
From Germany, Katzenzungen, which translates to “cat tongues,” the shape of which these milk-chocolate treats are made to mimic.
Frigeo Ahoj Brause Stabchen
Also from Germany: sour hard candies, in flavors from sweet woodruff (an herb) to raspberry, that fizz as they dissolve in your mouth.
Ovomaltine Chocolate Bars
From Switzerland, Ovomaltine (a.k.a. Ovaltine) chocolate bars, which are on the pricey side. But in the words of one reviewer: “These chocolate bars make me think I died and went to heaven. … Smooth, a little smoky, a bit crispy, salty, sweet … malted.”
Botan Rice Candy
Of course, there are Japanese Kit Kats, but what about these sweet, little Japanese chewies that come wrapped in edible rice paper that dissolves on your tongue.
White Rabbit Creamy Candy
The super-popular, chewy, mild Chinese milk candies called White Rabbit also come in delightful edible paper.
Chun Guang Durian Milk Candy
Eat these durian-flavored, chewy Chinese milk candies, on the other hand, at your own risk. Warns one reviewer: “It smells of onions and dirty socks. Actual taste is somewhat sweet and fruity.”
Cadbury Cherry Ripe Multipack
Cadbury Cherry Ripe, said to be Australia’s oldest chocolate bar, with a cherry and coconut filling, and an Old Gold chocolate exterior.
Korovka, 1 Pound
Russian milk caramels whose name translates to “little cow,” with a fudgy texture and a liquid center.
Krowki Milanowskie Milky Cream Fudge
Or try the Polish version of little cows, equally beloved there.
Violet Abbaye De Flavigny Anise Drops
These violet-scented anise drops (which contain a single seed at the center of each) have been made in France since the 17th century.
Nestle Aero Milk Chocolate and Peppermint Bar Sample Pack
In England (and Canada), Nestlé products taste very different, as evidenced by the perfectly creamy chocolate Aero bar, which has an interior full of air bubbles, so that it collapses into your mouth as you eat it.
Maynards Wine Gums, 3 Bags
There’s no actual wine to be found in wine gums (they supposedly got that name because savoring their fruit flavors is meant to be similar to parsing the nuances of wine), but they’re a top-notch British candy, nonetheless.
Denmark’s beloved wine gummy is called Spunk. According to Wikipedia, in 1971, the founders came across the word spunk in the book Pippi in the South Seas.
Lotte Soft Malang
This South Korean version of milk candy is likened by some reviewers to marshmallow in texture, and marketed by Lotte as “the taste of cloud.”
Supercoco Coconut Candy, Pack of 50
From Colombia, hard candies embedded with chunks of real coconut.
Bon O Bon
Cutely wrapped round Argentine Bon O Bons, featuring peanut cream encased in a layer of wafer and dipped in milk chocolate.
Idaho Spud Candies, Box of 12
Don’t forget domestic cult drugstore candy (that you can’t find at Duane Reade), like the Idaho Spud, a potato-shaped, cocoa-flavored marshmallow dipped in dark chocolate and sprinkled with coconut. (Click here for some other obscure American candies we like.)
Slate has relationships with various online retailers. If you buy something through our links, Slate may earn an affiliate commission. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. All prices were up to date at the time of publication.