6/21/18 update: Sadly, reader Charlie informed me that The Black is once again lost: Chateau D’Lanz stopped producing it and we are once again on the hunt for great black licorice. If you know of wonderful black licorice buttons that fit the description below, please PLEASE PLEASE let me know!
You ain’t no kinda candy lover if you don’t live for The Black.
You want a great candy? Smooth, supple, grab-your-socks candy? Candy that sends your mouth to heaven, darkens your tongue, brightens your outlook, and pulls out your fillings?
Screw chocolate. You want The Black, my friend: Black licorice. Specifically, black licorice buttons:
When I was a kid, Dad regularly supplied us with sacks of black licorice. It came in shiny, richly flavored black buttons that bore about as much resemblance to dime store licorice whips that a good brie does to Velveeta.
I’d pop one in my mouth, hard as a rock, hold it there and wait…30 seconds later my mouth would flood with intense licorice flavor, snappy-sweet with a mild bite. I didn’t dare bite back, not yet. THIS licorice would pull out your fillings, maybe even your teeth, if you chewed one second too soon.
But oh, the flavor it gave while you waited! We’d float dreamily around the house with blackened tongues and gothic lips until Dad’s little sack was empty, smiling and chewing and reaching for another piece of The Black.
The Black was made by Heide, a small company that supplied department store candy counters. It was swallowed up by Hershey, who passed it onto Farley & Sathers, and somewhere along the way some idiot in a suit decided that black licorice was unprofitable.
What I said shouldn’t be printed in a family blog.
I’ve hunted The Black ever since, tasting hundreds of substitutes. I sought it in New York. Boston. Stockholm. Provence. LA. Chicago. Helsinki (where true licorice is a beloved and very different beast). Toledo. Quebec. Paris. Tokyo. Penang. Mexico City.
Found it on Amazon last month and, irony of ironies, discovered that it’s being handmade about three hours from my home, in Arlington, Washington. The family that makes it is named Love.
Naturally. Who else would be making The Black but The Loves?
The new name is Chateau D’Lanz Swiss Licorice, and I swear, it’s brought back my childhood.
It’s intensely licoriced and not too sweet, almost exactly like The Black of my childhood, a flat, one-inch patty of Love. And, I promise, it will shatter your teeth like glass if you attempt to chew it even a nanosecond before it’s warmed and softened and willing to give. Just like The Black used to do.
I’ve been happily blackening my tongue and exuding serious licorice scent ever since the box arrived.
Seriously, ya gotta try this.
I work in a (eeeeeeeeuw!!!) red licorice office. DO NOT ask me why, but these people keep a big bucket of red licorice whips in the conference room.
They actually EAT that red stuff. On purpose. I mean, they empty that bucket a couple of times a week, get little flecks of red licorice all over the office.
It’s enough to make you sick, so I dipped into my precious hoard of Chateau D’Lanz, brought in a golden pack of deliciosity, and nobly proffered it to my mates.
“OMG. You LIKE black licorice? Ick.”
I love my coworkers, I really do, but they mortally insulted my candy. Peasants.
I slipped The Black into a desk drawer, away from unappreciative buffoons, and kept it to myself.
Then, this morning, we launched a new project with guys from a different division. One of them noted the red licorice chips littering the conference table.
“I’m sorry,” he apologized, “But red licorice turns my stomach; I’m really more of a black licorice lover. It’s too bad that good black licorice is so hard to find…”
“WAIT RIGHT THERE!” I shouted, and RAN for my desk.
He stopped the meeting and ordered two cases of The Black.
I feel redeemed.
Update, 2016: I’ve noticed that if you order The Black from Amazon, there’s a greater risk that you’ll get stale licorice. That’s not an impossible tragedy, but you lose some flavor and add about five minutes to the hold-in-mouth-before-applying-teeth factor.
I have no idea if this is just a coincidence or not, but I seem to have better luck ordering directly from D’Lanz. The downside is this adds about ten bucks to the bill, if you order it by the case.
BTW, they also sell other handmade stuff, like chocolates and cough drops. If you like that sort of thing. I’d tell you more about it, but the website just shows blank, white pages. Not kidding. Hey–they’re candymakers, not web developers…