“THE  MAGIC  OF  LICORICE”

 

I must admit that I love the taste of licorice.  I always have.  Now I know that most people don’t, and it is difficult to find any who can “take it or leave it”.  You either love it or hate it.  My wife is in the latter category.  I have had to limit my intake of the sweet, black, chewy, delicacy since our marriage.  

 

I have decided that this craving is inherited.  My father, Cecil, liked licorice as much as me.  On occasion he would eat the last of our licorice stash which would send me to Clyde Smith’s grocery in downtown San Augustine for a refill.  Back in the 1940s his was the only store in town that stocked licorice.   Mr. Smith kept a box of licorice bites inside his glass showcase, and a nickel’s worth filled a small brown sack.  Mr. Smith always gave me a warning as he handed the sack to me, “that stuff will turn you black, young man”.  So far, he has been wrong.

 

On rare occasions Clyde Smith would get in a supply of licorice pipes, and licorice cigarettes.  I really loved to walk around with a “cigarette” in my mouth, it slowly melting its sweet flavor.  The pipes had red candy on top of the bowl which simulated fire.  How cool was that !

 

Who would have thought that licorice has medicinal qualities?  I never knew that this sweet flavor can be extracted from the roots of the Liquorice plant.

Actually the plant is a legume native to southern Europe and parts of Asia.  So it is a cousin of beans and peas.  In Spain the locals simply dig down to the root, cut off a piece and chew it as a mouth-freshener.

 

I keep telling my wife that licorice of today is good for you, it has medicinal use.  Powdered Liquorice root is an effective expectorant.  It is useful in treating mouth ulcers, and peptic ulcers.  It is also a mild laxative and may be used as a topical antiviral agent for shingles, ophthalmic, oral or genital herpes.  Wow, I am impressed !

 

The Switzer Company of St. Louis was the premier maker of really authentic licorice.  It was readily available for many years. In fact, I think I helped keep them in business. Why didn’t I purchase some stock in the company?  Suddenly, several years ago Switzer’s Licorice disappeared off store shelves.  Shame on the Hershey company – they purchased Switzer and promptly shut down the licorice production.  Why would Hershey purchase a company that made licorice and then stop producing it?  The supply of my favorite candy treat dried up.

 

Now, thanks to the internet, I can again purchase real licorice candy, not made in America, but made in Australia, Sweden, and Germany.  About twice a year I order a six month’s supply of the treats and hide them in my closet.  My wife does not like the smell of it, so I have to be discrete – out of sight, out of mind.  I tell her that it could be a fifth of whiskey in my closet, and she should be thankful.

 

So, in this day when we all must blame someone for whatever befalls us, I suppose I can place the blame on my father and Clyde Smith for my love of licorice to this day.