Mexican Chinese candy refers to sweets and confections that blend flavors and ingredients from both Mexican and Chinese cuisines. This type of candy has become popular over the years as a creative and delicious fusion of two distinct food cultures.
What are some examples of Mexican Chinese candy?
Some of the most popular examples of Mexican Chinese candy include:
- Mango lollipops with chili powder – Mangos are a tropical Mexican fruit combined with the Chinese love of fruit-flavored lollipops and chili peppers.
- Sweet and spicy tamarind candy – Tamarind is a popular Mexican flavor paired with Chinese seasonings like cinnamon, star anise, and Sichuan peppercorns.
- Coconut gummies with tajín – Coconut is used in candies across Asia combined with the Mexican chili-lime seasoning tajín.
- Chamoy covered fruit – Chamoy is a salty, spicy Mexican sauce made from pickled fruit that can coat Chinese fruits like lychee and mango.
- Sour mango belts with Sichuan peppercorn – Long, chewy fruit belts are a Chinese specialty infused with bold Mexican mango and Sichuan pepper.
- Plum dried fruit rolls – Chinese preserved plums meet Mexican chile salt for an extra flavorful fruit leather.
In addition to playing with flavors, Mexican Chinese candies may blend other aspects of the two cuisines. For example, many candies take traditional Chinese ingredients like dried fruits, nuts, and teas and add Mexican spices. The candies also utilize cooking and preservation techniques from both cultures, like sun-drying fruit and pickling.
What ingredients are commonly used in Mexican Chinese candy?
Some ingredients that often appear in Mexican Chinese candies include:
- Fruits: Mangos, tamarind, coconut, plum, lychee, pineapple, guava, strawberry, passionfruit
- Chilies: Chili powder, chipotle powder, ancho chile, jalapeño, habanero
- Spices and seasoning: Cinnamon, cumin, cloves, star anise, Sichuan peppercorn, five spice powder, tajín
- Sauces: Chamoy, hoisin, ponzu
- Herbs: Cilantro, mint
- Nuts and seeds: Peanuts, cashews, sesame seeds
- Tea: Oolong, jasmine green tea, pu-erh
- Other: Condensed milk, coconut, mango or tamarind pulp, dried seaweed, sesame brittle
Using both every day and rare ingredients from China and Mexico leads to limitless flavor combinations in the candy. The ingredients bring sweet, sour, salty, spicy, and umami tastes.
What are the origins and history of Mexican Chinese candy?
The fusion of Mexican and Chinese candy has its roots in the 19th century immigration patterns between China and Mexico. Chinese immigrants first arrived to Mexico in the mid 1800s, many settling in northwestern towns and starting small general stores. These stores sold imported Chinese goods along with Mexican ingredients and developed signature candies using both.
One legend traces the origins of Mexican Chinese candy to La Sonorita general store in Ensenada, Mexico. The store was owned by a Chinese-Mexican family in the late 1800s. To appeal to local customers, they combined their imported Chinese candy recipes with bold Mexican flavors like mango, lime, and chili. The resulting fusion candies were a hit and the concept spread.
In the early 1900s, more waves of Chinese immigrants settled in northwest Mexico and opened more general stores selling cross-culture candies. Sweets like coconut squares with anise, mango hard candies, tamarind gummies, and dried plum circles became popular local treats. Vendors also started selling Mexican Chinese candies at market stalls in cities across Mexico.
Over generations, more Mexican Chinese families developed signature candy products that have become beloved regional specialties. For example, Orchestra Larín makes strawberry belt candies with Sichuan pepper, while Delvio’s is known for mango and tamarind sweets. Chinese Mexican candy today is often considered its own unique genre of Mexican food.
How is Mexican Chinese candy made?
While recipes vary, most Mexican Chinese candies use a similar production process:
- Prep ingredients – Fresh and dried fruits are chopped. Spices, powders, liquids are measured.
- Cook base ingredients – Sugar or pulp is cooked to certain temps or textures.
- Layer and coat – Candy is shaped, stuffed, or coated with powders and sauces.
- Dry or cure – Candy dries uncovered or cures in spices for days.
- Package – Candy is wrapped in plastic, paper, or other packaging to store.
Cooking stages like boiling sugar syrup and drying the candy require precise timing and temperatures. The candies also last thanks to added preservatives from Mexican and Chinese traditions, like sun-drying, salting, and pickling with chamoy sauce. Creating the layered flavors in each piece also takes skill and creativity.
What are some popular brands and companies?
Some of the top Mexican Chinese candy brands today include:
|Taka||Mexico City||Mango belts, tamarind sweets|
|Orchestra Larín||Mazatlán||Strawberry pulparindo|
|Delvio’s||Mexicali||Mango and tamarind lollipops|
|El Parian||Los Angeles||Plum candy, coconut squares|
|Dulces Vero||California||Tamarind and chamoy gummies|
Along with large confectionery producers, there are also many small shops, street vendors, and family-run businesses that make and sell Mexican Chinese candies regionally across Mexico and the United States.
Where can you buy Mexican Chinese candy?
There are several places to find Mexican Chinese candies:
- Mexican grocery stores – Many carry imported and local candies in Mexico and internationally.
- Online shops – Specialty Mexican and Asian food sites sell Mexican Chinese candies worldwide.
- Mexican markets and street fairs – Outdoor stalls and vendors will often have a range of Mexican Chinese sweets.
- Chinatowns – Some shops in Chinatowns in Mexico and other countries sell fusions like Mexican Chinese candy.
- Specialty candy stores – Retailers focusing on international sweets may have Mexican Chinese imports.
- Direct from brands – Many candy companies sell online and ship internationally.
Searching for “dulces chinos” or “dulces chino-mexicanos” can help find relevant candies. Traveling in Mexico’s northwest region, especially cities like Tijuana, Mexicali, and Ensenada, provides access to small producers of Mexican Chinese candy.
What are some popular flavors and types?
Some of the most beloved Mexican Chinese candy flavors and forms include:
- Mango – Popsicles, lollipops, dried strips, salted mango
- Tamarind – Sour gummies, salted tamarind strips, tamarind pulp candies
- Chili mango – Mango lollipops rolled in chili powder
- Plum – Dried salted plum strips, plum hard candy
- Coconut – Coconut squares with anise
- Strawberry – Chewy strawberry belts with lime and chili
- Lychee – Lychee gummies, lychee hard candy
- Pineapple – Dried pineapple slices dusted in chili
- Mango-chamoy – Mango strips coated in tangy chamoy sauce
- Passionfruit – Passionfruit gummy candies
The candies come in various forms like pressed bars, filled lollipops, salted fruit leathers, soft gummies, powdered fruit slices, and more. There are countless flavor combinations still being created.
What are some popular ways to eat Mexican Chinese candy?
Mexican Chinese candy is eaten in many ways, including:
- As a snack – The candies are perfect quick snacks on their own.
- With fruit – Pairing fresh mangos, jicama, cucumbers, and melon with the candy.
- On fruit salad – Topping fruit salad with dried fruit leathers or salted candies.
- On shaved ice – Adding some sweets on top of raspas shaved ice.
- With drinks – Allowing a mango candy to melt in hot tea for flavor.
- As dessert toppings – Crushing candies over flan, rice pudding, or ice cream.
- In moles – Ground plum or tamarind candy added to complex moles.
- For baking – Using candies in place of sugar in cookies, cakes, and breads.
- For seasoning – Powdered mango candy in place of salt on fruits and veggies.
The candies work perfectly as portable snacks but also as versatile ingredients in drinks, desserts, and main dishes.
Are Mexican Chinese candies healthy?
Like most candies, Mexican Chinese sweets are high in sugar and not particularly healthy, but they do have some nutritional benefits:
- Fruit ingredients – Contain vitamins and minerals not found in regular candy.
- Dried fruit – Higher in fiber compared to processed candy.
- Salt and chili – The salt and spicy chilies can aid digestion.
- Herbal teas – Some candies feature ingredients used in Chinese medicine.
- Satisfying – The bold flavors satisfy cravings in smaller portions.
Enjoying Mexican Chinese candy in moderation can be part of an overall balanced diet. The candy offers unique flavors and some nutritive value not found in a regular chocolate bar. Still, most health experts would recommend limiting consumption of sweets in general.
What are some safety and dietary concerns with Mexican Chinese candy?
Some health and allergen considerations to keep in mind with Mexican Chinese candy include:
- Choking hazards – The candies can pose choking risks for small children if not cut properly.
- Allergies – Trees nuts, sesame, mango, and other allergens may be present.
- Cross-contamination – Risk of cross-contamination in facilities processing multiple ingredients.
- Sugar and acid – High sugar and acid can damage teeth and upset sensitive stomachs.
- Spice irritation – Chili and Sichuan peppercorn may cause mouth or digestive irritation in some.
- Food coloring – Potential reactions to artificial coloring added to some candies.
Reading ingredient labels carefully and monitoring children’s consumption is important. For some with allergies or intolerances, enjoying authentic Mexican Chinese candy may require extra precautions.
What are some similar fusion sweets and treats?
Beyond Mexican Chinese candy, there are other cultural fusion candies across the globe, such as:
- Filipino-Chinese candy – Sweets like coconut strips with red bean paste.
- Indian-Chinese candy – Like ginger candy with star anise and cardamom.
- Korean-Japanese candy – For example, chocolate coated soybean candies.
- Thai-Portuguese candy – Fios de ovos candies with egg threads.
- Jewish-Chinese egg rolls – Egg rolls with Jewish brisket or matzo inside.
- Taiwanese mochi treats – Mochi with Asian flavors like taro and green tea.
Globalization has allowed unique fusion candies to develop and spread. Candy makers continue to draw from their own diverse backgrounds and experiment with cross-cultural flavors from around the world.
Mexican Chinese candy offers a tasty blend of two great food cultures. The candies fuse sweet, sour, spicy, and savory flavors using ingenuity and skill. While not the healthiest treat, enjoying Mexican Chinese candy in moderation allows you to experience a unique part of both Mexican and Chinese cuisine. Candy shops, street fairs, and markets provide opportunities to discover new and nostalgic fusion candies wherever Mexican and Chinese immigrants have settled around the globe.