Heyhey, it’s #TicTacTuesday!! The 121st variety added to the Tic Tac collection: FRESH+ Liquorice. This is a new line extension for Tic Tac, but FRESH+ does look a bit like the European “Breeze” line from a couple years ago. The candies here are the same shape (a fatter flattened Tic Tac shape) as Breeze. In FRESH+, the packaging is frosted-white no matter the flavor (Breeze had different colored plastic per flavor) but now the candy itself is sometimes colored (Breeze had white candies no matter the flavor). The FRESH+ line is made in Alba, Italy and so far appears to only be available within Italy.
There’s a lot going on here, so let’s jump in and start with the packaging. The frosted-white plastic is nice, although it has a glossy finish. The finish on the Breeze packages had a nicer feel, a sort of rough/matte texture. The frosting still sets it apart from your regular flavors and makes it feel “frosty” and cool. They went with some metallic printing on the label, which adds a premium feel.
The ingredients show that we’ve got three kinds of non-sugar sweeteners: xylitol, sorbitol, and steviol glycosides (Stevia). Personally, I can identify the taste of Stevia in things and I’m not a huge fan (weird aftertaste), so I’m not loving that. The label states that these are “con cristalli di freschezza” which means “with freshness crystals.” The Breeze line had “crystallised herbs” so I guess that’s a bit updated here.
For the flavoring, I see powdered licorice extract, menthol, and essential oil of mint. They have a good, fairly intense licorice/anise flavor that is not too sweet. There is also a minty finish, which is common in most Tic Tac flavors at this point. The xylitol also adds that familiar “cooling effect” we’ve seen in other candies.
As for the coloring, we’ve got something interesting in this pack: black. As far as I can tell, these are the only black Tic Tacs out there and I might know why. The coloring they use is something called E153. A little research online finds, “E153 is a food additive approved by the European Union (EU). It is used as a natural colouring agent in food and drink products. The common name for E153 is vegetable carbon. E153 is produced from burning vegetable matter, but may also be produced from animal charcoal. E153 is not soluble in water, making it useful as a filtering aid or clarifying agent, but limiting its use in food and drink products. E153 is banned in the United States. Only the variety originated from vegetables is permitted in Australia. Suspected as a carcinogenic agent although it is now believed that this may have been due to the presence of impurities. Not recommended for consumption by children.” It appears the black colorant isn’t super-cool everywhere. Good thing I only ate one of them!
They did use a natural color agent for the herb crystals themselves in the form of spirulina concentrate. Although, that ingredient wasn’t legal to use in the US until a few years ago. I’m glad they at least used something natural but sad they only did so on the bit inside the candy that you can’t (or at least probably won’t) see.
I’ve been having a bit of a personal “black licorice renaissance” over the past week, so this fits in nicely with that. Most people I know, however, hate the taste of black licorice, so I’m guessing these will not be all that popular.