The Lowdown on Licorice

The Healthy Sweet

Ahhh licorice, the classic movie treat, the sweet shop favorite, the American candy. Or is it? Turns out there’s more to this nostalgia inducing food than meets the …tongue. Sometimes spelled “liquorice”, the word itself refers to licorice root, a legume native to India, Asia and Southern Europe. It is also called “sweet root” for its naturally sweet flavor. That's why we recommend Tasty Vapor's Black Licorice flavor with little or no added sweetener. The sweety goodness comes from glycyrrhizin, a component of black licorice that is 30-50% sweeter than sucralose!

In addition to its tasty properties, the licorice root is known for its medicinal value and commonly used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Herbology, and even Western Medicine. It is said to treat a variety of ailments including depression, eczema, indigestion, obesity, bronchitis, underactive adrenal gland function and bad breath. The black licorice root can be used raw, boiled, or dried, though it’s most commonly extracted and used made into supplements. In Southern Italy, where licorice grows naturally, locals are known to simply dig up the root, wash it, and chew it for fresh breath. Sounds tasty.


Vapers Only

Former smokers (speaking of fresh breath) will be interested to know that black licorice is frequently used as a flavoring and moistening agent for tobacco products (but not vapor products). In fact, in 2005 M&F Worldwide reported that about 73% of its licorice extracts and derivatives were sold to the tobacco industry. And the root does more than just flavor the cancer sticks, it actually acts as a bronchodilator, opening up the lungs so the smoke is easier to inhale. Sound like a business strategy to anyone else?

Red Vines

It would seem licorice root has many uses in our big world; sometimes healthy, sometimes, not so much. As confectioners learned to twist the naturally sweet flavor of licorice into vine like candies, the term “licorice” became synonymous with that shape of candy. These days, of course, the vines contain absolutely no licorice root. The Red Vines “Original Red Twists”, were initially raspberry flavored, before the recipe changed in 1952 to the flavor many of us grew accustomed to in childhood. That’s the flavor we all love to vape. 

Some people swear by black licorice, others can only tolerate red. Neither contain extracts of the root which make us wonder, why do we still call it licorice? Food for thought as we move into the holiday season and consume as many red (or black) vines as we can before the New Year!