I have recently rediscovered my love of mexican candy. Spicy mexican candy.
I guess ‘re-ignited’ would be a better word than ‘rediscovered’ because the burn starts on the tongue and flows directly to my heart. Tons of mexican candy is either coated in chili or has chili mixed into it. I think the very best example of this are fruity lollipops.
Delicious and sweet watermelon and mango lollipops, shaped just like a slice of watermelon or a whole mango, were all the rage when I was a kid. The big catch: they have a thick coating of chili that it like licking the surface of the sun. Oh, you can get the non-chili coated versions if you look hard enough. They’re not as popular, but they’re there. But who wants the wimpy candy-only version when your friends are all out there spicing it up like champs? No one, that’s who. I think this is why Mexico has the most laid back people. Even more laid-back, than the known-for-being-laid-back Australians. Kids learn from an early age that if you want something good, you gotta suffer for it first.
A couple of weeks ago, I was eating a light, butterless popcorn. (I’m watching my boyish figure.) Light popcorn on its own tastes like syrofoam that hates you, so I whipped up a spice mix for it while my movie kept playing in the background. I was playing pretty loose with my spices, since I was by myself and didn’t have to be accountable if I ruined the popcorn for someone else. And it was amazing. Really killed it on the spice mix. Like, ‘popping a finger into the leftover dust at the bottom of the bowl and licking it off like an animal’ killed it. There was something really familiar about it. Something was tickling the nostalgia center of my brain and I couldn’t figure it out until later. I had come pretty damn close to Lucas!
Lucas was a line of spice mixes sold in Texas in the 90s. You could get them at gas stations and ice cream trucks since they were sold to kids as candy. The yellow Lucas Acidito was fairly sweet and very spicy and we used to just pour it in our hands, then pop in our mouths. For about 50 cents, it was a piece of candy that lasted forever. The yellow Lucas is the one I accidentally made. Later, Lucas came out with the red Super Lucas, which was even spicier and not very sweet at all. It was basically a spicy steak mix that we still ate like candy. Lucas eventually came out with Baby Lucas, which was mango flavored sugar with only mild spice to it, which led to a whole series of sweeter, but still spicy snacks and candies. This is old news to anyone that grew up in a heavily hispanic area in the 90s.
I tried to duplicate my popcorn mix so I could have it around, but I also wanted to see if I could get any closer to original yellow Lucas. I started to scour the internet for any information or for people taking guesses at the recipe. It turns out Lucas was a pretty obscure item outside of Mexico and Southern Texas and California. It was everywhere in San Antonio back in the day. Most of the posts were other people like myself looking to find a recipe, wondering where they could buy it, or just talking about it for nostalgia.
As it turns out, no one has seen actual Lucas since 2003. The factories were forced to cease production after it was discovered that Lucas contained massive amounts of lead. Maybe that was the secret ingredient that I was missing, since my Lucas didn’t quite taste like real Lucas. I’m sure I dropped a couple of IQ points during my tween years, sucking down lead candy and watching dumb cartoons. I have since made bottles of both yellow and red Lucas and they’re pretty decent. Even as an adult, I love sitting there and pouring Lucas into my mouth until my lips start to burn. My girlfriend puts it on fruit and cottage cheese.
Recreating Lucas has led me to trying to rediscover another mexican favorite: Chamoy. Chamoy is a sweet, spicy liquid candy. I reckon it’s officially supposed to be a fruit dip. Lucas is also officially supposed to be a fruit seasoning. You can do that – and it is good – but this is another one that we used to just suck down plain. You could buy it in the same places as Lucas and it came in a little accordion squeeze bottle with a small nozzle that you could stick right down your gullet. Luckily, chamoy is still around and still just as popular as ever. No lead to be found.
The internet is loaded with recipes for chamoy. I was able to replicate it on the first try. That is, I was able to replicate it well enough to work for around the house here. A number of Australians have already gotten me to pass the recipe along. For a gross blood red liquid candy, people seem to jump on board pretty quickly.
Now for everybody interested, here are my attempts at recipes for the above:
- Citric Acid
- Black Pepper
- Garlic Powder
- Chili Powder (I had cayenne on hand)
Lucas Red is pretty much the same stuff, but in different proportions. Think of yellow as sweet and red as savory.
- Less sugar
- More salt
- Citric Acid
- Black Pepper
- Garlic Powder
- Chili Powder
I wish I could tell you the proportions, but I was really freestyling.
- 1 Jar Apricot Preserves
- 2 Limes
- 2 tablespoons red chili flakes
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
Blend it all together. Maybe start with less spice and increase until you get to where you can barely stand it. All Mexican candy should be right at the top of your tolerable spice level, just past the endorphin rush and right before nausea. You can try to use something mango-y instead of apricot preserves, but I haven’t tried it yet. Just google chamoy recipes, you lazy bastards.
PS – I just stole all those pictures from the internet and I don’t own anything.