Quest for licorice

>>Quest for licorice

licoricebuttons2I just received a stellar example of mindless customer service letters, thought I’d share. Here’s the story:

For the past few years I’ve been seeking licorice buttons. Heide licorice buttons, to be exact. They’re the ones that used to be sold in department store candy counters across the US, the delicious black rounds, about 3/4 inch in diameter. The despair of dentists and mothers everywhere, they could pull out a filling in nothing flat and got black licorice goo all over EVERYthing.

We loved them. My family (especially my Dad and I) could go through a pound bag of those things in nothing flat. Along around 1998, I noticed that I hadn’t seen them in awhile.

Sometime later, on a business trip to Sweden, I found a licorice store (Scandinavians apparently take their licorice VERY seriously), bought 5 pounds of licorice buttons to take back to my dad…and discovered that, in Sweden, they were apparently called “salty licorice.”

The Swedes were amazed and impressed at my purchase (“Very few Americans appreciate this taste”). When I got back to my room and tasted one, I found out why: Take a pound of salt and a pound of baking soda, toss in a little aniseed, then concentrate it down into a single piece of candy, and you have salty licorice. I had to brush my teeth twice to get the taste out of my mouth.

Anyway, my salt licorice experience kicked off a determined quest to find MY licorice. In the process, I discovered an entire online community of licorice lovers. There are licorice blogs, licorice stores, licorice discussion groups. There are comfort food stores online that sell stuff like Teabury gum and Junket Danish Dessert.

Heide is well-loved in this community; I was showered with suggestions for “taste equivalents,” (something called Rabbit is the closest, apparently) but also given the bad news:

Heide licorice was gone. Heide had sold to Hershey, Hershey dropped the line and then sold the whole thing to Farley’s and Sathers.

Next step: I sent a letter to F&S, asking them to revive the brand and/or tell me where I can find Heide black licorice buttons. I did, and a couple of months later (today), they’ve responded with form letter 3B:

Dear Ms. Morgan:

Thank you for contacting Farley’s & Sathers Candy Co., Inc. regarding the Heide® Candies. Hearing from our consumers better enables us to continue to provide quality products and services. Consumer feedback is very important to us, and we appreciate the opportunity to respond.

Farley’s & Sathers Candy Company is happy to hear you enjoy our products. We enjoy hearing good things from our consumers and share consumer comments in our company newsletter from time to time.

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and comments with us! We appreciate your patronage. Please visit our website at for additional information about our products and services.

Best regards, Consumer Affairs


I guess I’ll take that as a “no.”


One Comment

  1. gary brown November 14, 2007 at 11:18 am - Reply

    At least they filled in the product name on the auto-generated letter. I love it when I get something that has a little dohickey (doohicky? duhicky?) like:

    “Thank you for writing to us about . Your…”

    As to licorice… there is of course the psycho-active stuff you get in The Netherlands. I’d get a buzz from it just sitting in a tin in my pocket. I loved the taste, but decided the weird head rush just wasn’t worth the flavor.


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