I found The Black! (licorice)

>>I found The Black! (licorice)

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.

They stopped making The Black. No market, they said.

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…



  1. Charlie June 20, 2018 at 6:02 am - Reply

    Chateau D’Lanz no longer makes the buttons! does anybody know a new source?

    • cynthia June 21, 2018 at 11:31 am - Reply

      Oh NO!!!!! Thanks for letting me know, Charlie. I guess the hunt is on again!

      What IS it about black licorice?

      • Chuckles July 15, 2018 at 7:52 pm - Reply

        Please post if anyone finds a replacement. It was this article that led me to Chateau years ago. sigh I ate them as a child in the 70’s and my dad loved them.

  2. Bea Hall February 3, 2017 at 12:58 pm - Reply

    I have been mad at Hershey’s for years. Besides this slap in the face, they also bought the Switzer’s Licorice company and deep-sixed it in favor of their sorry substitute, Twizzlers, which has only the faintest resemblance to licorice. On top of that, they got the license for Cadbury’s production in the USA. The comparison of REAL Cadbury’s chocolate to the Hershey’s version is like day and night. Love the Chateau d’Lanz, but every once in awhile a batch is really brittle.

  3. David Tomato February 26, 2016 at 9:23 am - Reply

    Thanks A Gazillion!!!

    I too grew up lusting after “The Black” in Pittsburgh, PA and deeply wounded when they fell of the planet. Tried any and every black licorice I could find.

    Closest I found but certainly not “The Black”, is Gustaf’s Dutch Licorice Cats.

    So inspired by your Posting, I have ordered a few pounds of Chateau D’Lanz and will not wait by the door for the delivery!

    • Mary Beth November 25, 2017 at 2:15 pm - Reply

      I grew up north of pittsburgh and my dad always brought bags of hard , domed black licorice buttons with a W or M on top from a store in New Kensington. ( the Greeks, he called it) I’ve been searching for years to find them and surprise my siblings. Could this be similar?

      • cynthia November 25, 2017 at 8:52 pm - Reply

        Could be, or at least the hard, domed part sounds right. The only others I know that fit that description are the Scandinavian salt licorice varieties, and those aren’t sweet, but are rather like eating really nasty rock salt. If you had a sweet-ish, very strong licorice flavor, it’s probably the same thing. The individual bags from Chateau D’Lanz aren’t that expensive, so I’d give it a shot and see.

  4. Reid Meisner December 15, 2015 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    I am hopeful my search is over! I too have been searching for that little black button for what feels like decades! I just placed an order for a couple of sleeves as a trial to be shipped to my parents who are the experts! If they give the thumbs up I will gladly share! I am optimistic based on Cynthia’s research-thank you!

  5. Renee Casella September 16, 2015 at 8:16 pm - Reply

    Black Hard Licorice Buttons I ate them as a kid when my dad brought them home. Oh how I long for them again. Can’t wait to try the one you recommend. I, too have been searching for the ‘one and only’ hard black licorice buttons.

    Thank goodness there is a God!

  6. Maria Castelli August 26, 2015 at 8:08 am - Reply

    Just ordered and am hoping it’s the real deal

  7. Nancy H. Trout July 27, 2015 at 2:27 pm - Reply

    I loved the black licorice when I was 13 years old. I wondered
    where I could find them after so many years not having any.
    You probably figured it out by now that I am 84 years old.

  8. Pennsylvania Dave July 29, 2014 at 9:56 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this post. My grandfather had a candy dish that always had some type of black licorice in it and my sister hated the stuff but I started loving it very early and eventually decided the hard black licorice buttons were in fact THE MOST ENJOYABLE but like you noticed they disappeared in the mid 1990s and I could no longer find them. Sure I moved on to Kookaburra and Panda and the Katz (withOUT the salt) and enjoyed both Fisherman’s Friends Mentholated Lozenges (not for the faint of heart) and the very tasty Black Mentholated Licorice Lakerols but I always kept my eye open for the old big HARD buttons. Sad they are gone and none of these products have topped them. Thanks for the tip on this Chateau De’ Lenz product. I will order up some and check it out to see if it can hold a candle to my memory. By the way, that Grandfather whom ate licorice for the ENTIRE ride lived to be 100 years old! Coincidence? I think not!

  9. Pam L. July 22, 2013 at 9:55 pm - Reply

    After sampling some Irish licorice toffee (oh my gosh that was good), a friend… who had order a 4 pound bag of said awesome goodness…introduced me to her source: http://www.licoriceinternational.com/ Like you, she had looked for years for her childhood licorice experience and found it there.

    I just checked. They have your brand. 🙂

  10. Don June 7, 2013 at 4:16 am - Reply

    We eat Panda brand black licorice. Is the Chateau D’lanz comparable?

    • Cynthia June 7, 2013 at 10:07 am - Reply

      The Panda’s sweeter, and quite a bit softer, with the more typical rubbery-pillowy licorice texture. The Chateau D’lanz is almost brittle at first, then softens (and gets very sticky, like a jujube). But what really sells me on the D’lanz is the flavor.

  11. Barbara Ross March 11, 2013 at 2:43 pm - Reply

    I had the same childhood experience and have also been looking for YEARS for those wonderful hard buttons. It appears that Hershey bought the recipe and then stopped making them. I just discovered this hard licorice by accident. I was checking out at Home Goods and there they were,, on a little rotating display. Needless to say I bought them all and then came home, found them on Amazon, and bought 16 more bags. …just in case they decide to stop making them again. THEY ARE VERY EXPENSIVE THO….VERY!

  12. Dee October 18, 2012 at 5:10 pm - Reply

    shereen, my husband orders dutch food from a website called dutch sweets – http://www.dutchsweets.com/

  13. gary brown October 15, 2012 at 7:58 am - Reply

    Well, I tried it. Too strong for me!

  14. Shereen October 10, 2012 at 9:10 pm - Reply

    I seek out Dubbel Zoute Licorice. My Parents are Dutch and I have very little family in the US.

  15. Dee September 29, 2012 at 12:06 pm - Reply

    as the wife of a dutchman who LOVES licorice and periodically orders both sweet and salted, be careful of sneering at another’s preferred licorice y’all 😉

  16. Jim Simmons September 25, 2012 at 3:57 pm - Reply

    If it is red it AIN”T licorice.
    I have been buying the Austrailian king. Will try youre Cynthia.

  17. Cynthia September 25, 2012 at 11:27 am - Reply

    Gary, I’ll bet you had salt licorice. Looks just like The Black (the original) but tastes like something that died in a salt marsh several years ago.


  18. gary brown September 25, 2012 at 7:40 am - Reply

    I’ll have to try it when I visit (hint! hint!). I hope it’s not like the stuff I tried to eat in The Netherlands. After a couple of pieces of that stuff I feel like I’ve downed a couple of Pseudoephedrine Hydrochloride tablets with a Red Bull chaser. Not Fun.

  19. Ellen Abbott September 24, 2012 at 7:08 pm - Reply

    I’m partial to black licorice myself. That red stuff? That’s not licorice.

  20. jenn houser September 24, 2012 at 5:54 pm - Reply

    Will order tonight. I heart black licorice!

  21. Cynthia Oliver September 24, 2012 at 5:28 pm - Reply

    It’s a good thing we don’t work together or I’d have stolen all your black licorice by now. Today, one of my co-workers was using an essential oil that is anise. Very strong black licorice scent and I was pining for some good black licorice….and then, I came home to find this blog post. Hankering even more fully for some good black.

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