Sometimes, there a distraction. Other times, a fire-in-a-barrel.
Sometimes, there’s a distraction, in a fire-in-a-barrel.
Okay, you probably have lots. But when Tyler Bar, a member of my Game of Thrones crew, mentioned that his girlfriend Leena Bar had just returned from a trip to Iceland and had some candy bars to try, I couldn’t pass up the chance to shoehorn in as many D2: The Mighty Ducks references as I could — lest I get accused of eating ice cream with the enemy.
Leena was kind enough to snag some Pypp bars — a med myntufylling bar, according to its packaging — and some Lakkris bars, which were explicitly recommended to her by a few different Icelanders, an anecdote I am going to use as the basis for my assumption that the Lakkris is Iceland’s favorite treat.
We decided to dive into the Lakkris first. From the packaging (pictured above), we put together that it was either a caramel or light-milk chocolate bar interspersed with some sort of dark matter [Ed. note: Which seemed to be falling from the sky for some reason] made up of coffee beans, rabbit pellets or small cylinders of poison. Leena confirmed it was the last of those.
Of course, I made a similar licorice/poison joke out loud [Ed. note: I have a good six or seven of them] and Leena revealed that she liked black licorice — along with, I surmised, all of Iceland — so I felt like a goober.
Once we bit into the bar, though, I realized that the merit of that gooberdom was truer than just a foot in the mouth: The Lakkris, a CDM-style milk chocolate with hard little licorice bits mixed in, was actually pretty good! The black licorice wasn’t your grandfather’s black licorice — the bitter, angry notes that usually characterize the flavor were less pronounced in the Lakkris — which complemented the chocolate much better than I had expected. The result was a light, creamy chocolate bar with some chewies and some gently bitter afternotes included.
All three of us at first found the hardness of the licorice bits somewhat jarring, but once we got used to them, they were welcome little chewy adventures immersed in a melty chocolate sea. Letting the chocolate melt in your mouth also mitigated some of the hardness of the licorice, as it was able to warm up and soften as the chocolate melted.
Moving on to the Pipp — with a wrapper marked by leaves and a wax seal — I was encouraged. When I realized that when you pronounce Lakkris phonetically you get “licorice”, well, I expected to not like it. But I did! Moving to the Pipp, which was pretty clearly something to do with mint, I figured we could build on the strong start.
Upon opening the wrapper … those expectations might have been a tad high. There was a sticky film that covered everything inside, which, like all other sticky films in literally all other situations, was a bit of a bummer. I don’t think it was supposed to be present — rather, was probably a consequence of travel or time or going glove side because you’re fancy — so it’s hard to give the Pipp too many demerits on account of it, but it’s worth noting.
Things turned up from there, though. The chocolate in the Pipp was a little more American style, perhaps sacrificing the creaminess for structure, as the bar is comprised of compartments filled with a mint goo. It’s far different than any mint bar that the three of us had ever had; in the US, either the chocolate is infused with the mint flavor (Andes) or there’s a more, um, chunky? texture to the mint filling (York). The Pipp’s mint was more, again, a goo, or a syrup with a consistency similar to the caramel in a Caramello.
That goo, though, was significantly less minty than I was expecting — a mint that was less “you don’t need to brush your teeth tonight” and more “this will help your tummy settle” — and I didn’t mind. Although the first bite I chewed, which led to a little too much mint goo at once — a rush of goo to the head, if you will — when I let the chocolate melt a little more, the mint was more evenly disbursed in my mouth, and it was pretty damn swell.
Both of the Icelandic bars were delightful, but if I had to pick one, I think I’d go with the Lakkris as my favorite of the two. Thanks to Leena and Tyler for the gift bars and the loyal readership!