As the director of editorial for a food publication, I try an awful lot of food and drinks. Whether it's moonshine, hot bowls of queso, chicken fried steaks, or cartons of Blue Bell ice cream, if you can name it, I've tried it. There are few things I'm willing to stake my claim on as a food editor, but I am writing today to tell you that the best regional candy in America is an authentic Baltimore treat: Goetze's Caramel Creams. I can no longer keep this secret to myself, y'all.
I grew up in Maryland, the land of UTZ chips and blue crab memorabilia as far as the eye can see. My sweet momma offered to send me a care package for Easter this year, and it arrived with some of my favorite things: a new container of Old Bay; UTZ Crab Chips; Bergers Cookies (I will one day wax poetic about Bergers, just you wait); and finally, Goetze's Caramel Creams, or Bulls Eyes. Before we get into why there's a reason why Goetze's Candy holds a special place in my heart.
Goetze's is an iconic Baltimore company, beginning in 1895 as The Baltimore Chewing Gum Company before it was a candy company. In the early 1900s, the business expanded and began making chewy caramels. In 1918, the first Caramel Creams became available. Over a century later, as Goetze's tells it, they are still being made in the same place. They also make Cow Tales, a stick-shaped chewy caramel filled with cream that are just as good as Caramel Creams.
So why are Goetze's original Caramel Creams the best regional candy around? I'm glad you asked.
1. The soft caramel is chewy enough to satisfy but doesn't stick your teeth.
I'm a candy connoisseur and as a caramel lover, I've tried almost every caramel candy you know. Typically, caramels are hard candies or they're just soft enough to bite into, but leave you chewing for 14 hours after you take that first bite. I don't need a jaw workout in the process of eating my little guilty pleasures, y'all!
With Goetze's, the caramel is the perfect consistency of chewy, but not sticky or hard. You won't feel like your back molar is going to come out in the candy, but it doesn't feel like it's going to disintegrate into your mouth immediately. As for taste, the caramel is rich and decadent without being artificially sweet or decadent.
2. The cream center is sweet, but actually has a taste.
I'm always hesitant about creamy white fillings in candies and cookies. More often than not, it all tastes like Oreo cookies' creme filling: sweet, but not flavorful. Goetze's creamy center tastes like a buttery vanilla icing as opposed to just straight sugar. The depth of flavor complements the chewy caramel outside, and when you take that first bite, the cream center collapses and the delicious sweet taste fills your mouth. There's really nothing like it, y'all.
The candies melt slowly in your mouth as you chew, and the flavors combine into something decadent. It's not an overwhelming sweetness, but one that makes you feel like you just indulged in a sweet treat. It's hard to eat just one, but one really does the trick of satisfying the urge.
3. Wrapped candy is better than unwrapped candy.
I understand that extra wrapping on anything, from plastic wrap to candy wrappers, is not great for the environment. However, what I love most about Goetze's Caramel Creams is that you can toss a few individual candies in your snack bag or purse before hitting the road. There's something about pulling the two ends of a Caramel Cream and hearing the crinkle sound as it unwinds. It marks an occasion for me, and it encourages less snacking. Trust me, when you see eight candy wrappers in front of you, it's pretty hard to continue to mindlessly eat.
4. Of five flavors, licorice is (unsurprisingly) the only bad egg.
I should preface this by saying that if I liked black licorice, I would like this flavor. Few candy varieties seamlessly translate to other flavors, but Goetze's Candy has done it. The five flavors are Caramel Creams, Chocolate Caramel Creams, Strawberry Caramel Creams, Apple Caramel Creams, and Licorice Caramel Creams.
In each flavor, the cream filling reflects the variety. If I had to choose my favorites of the flavors, I would have to say that the Apple cream center in the Apple Caramel Creams is my favorite, but Strawberry is a close contender. The chocolate is good, but fairly standard. I appreciate the exciting differences in the fruit cream flavors. And trust me, every Halloween was made more exciting by hoping I got some Apple Caramel Creams in my trick-or-treat bag.
5. They're from my hometown, and nothing takes me back quicker than that.
In the end, our tastes as adults are often influenced by our childhood favorites. Nothing takes me back to Maryland quicker than unwrapping a Caramel Cream, and while favorites are subjective, food connects to memory in fascinating ways. These little caramels bring me back to family dinners, evenings spent on the water, and long pool days in the summertime. That's what Maryland means to me, and that's why Goetze's Caramel Creams hold a special place in my heart.
Unwrapping a Caramel Cream, whether I do it in Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, or Maine, immediately places me in the backyard of my childhood home. My sweet tooth never forgets what that crinkly wrapper sounds like, and there is nothing like Caramel Cream candy. What things from your childhood can immediately take you back, no matter where you are?
To try Goetze's Caramel Creams yourself, check them out here. You won't be disappointed.
This post was not sponsored by, or affiliated with, Goetze's Candy in any way. I just really love Caramel Creams...
This post was originally published on December 5, 2019.