I have a... a relationship with licorice, you could say. Ever since a very nice, very tall, very smart Dutch guy who looked like something out of Tolkein (something maybe sort of... Entish) and whose surname, I swear to god, translates to Dragonheart, offered me some Old Timers licorice at a meeting in Denmark, in maybe 1999, warning me, "It's quite strong," (which is actually the number-one way to make me try anything), I have had periodic cravings for real, strong, salty, honest-to-Odin licorice.
Usually those cravings come only when I'm pregnant, which I have stopped doing, so ok.
But this summer, for some reason, I needed the strong stuff again, and, not currently having any close friends in northern Europe (besides my best friend from high school, who last I saw her was living in the Netherlands but is far too busy finding oil wells to mail me licorice and who besides which has moved to Kuala Lumpur by now I think - that's right, bitches, I have a friend in MALAYSIA, uh huh!), I found myself at an Internet mail-order house called All Things Dutch.
I spent fifty bucks on candy that most people react to as if it were an emetic, and I am really really happy about it. I bought 8 different varieties and I lived to tell.
Ceci n'est pas un pipe. Licorice on the outside, some brown stuff called salmiak on the inside. About 4 inches long. Quite sweet, but still very strong and licorice-y. Mr. Four has grown to love these.
Brussels Manneke licorice. Yes, it's licorice in the shape of a little boy peeing. Commemorates the famous fountain in Brussels.
Waxy, crumbly texture. Tastes better after you swallow it. None of my tasters cared for this, but I think it's ok.
Haringdrop. Translates to "herring candy". Coated with salt, this licorice is advertised as having "a taste of the sea". The best tasting of the lot.
Heksehyldrop. Translates to "witch's candy". Licorice log filled with salmiak, coated with sugar. Tough to like, but good once you get a taste for it. Soft and sweet but strong.
Katjesdrop, kitty-shaped licorice by Katja. Semi-soft, with good texture and strong licorice flavor. My kids like this one best.
As for the two little drops below the salt-covered fish-flavored candy (believe me, I am aware of how ridiculous it is to like this stuff):
The round one is an Echte Italiaanse laurierdrop, which we just call "those little hard scary ones," and which the All Things Dutch people call "the drop-lover's ultimate drop." They are hard and strong strong strong.
The one shaped like a teeny tiny charcoal briquet is a piece of Potter's Original, a quarter of the size of a Tic Tac and strong as a whole bag of haringdroppen. They come in a cutie little shaker tin, and they're a fun way to make a big strong mean bully weep.
Not shown: the Haribo licorice wheels are not bad at all in a pinch.