Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Anis de Flavigny

Anis de Flavigny StackLast year I read the book Sweets: a History of Candy by Tim Richardson. For a book about candy, there wasn’t much of the “modern” candy that we’re familiar with, instead a large portion of the book was spent on tracing the evolution of sugar and early candied fruits. Later it documents the rise of pastilles in the mid 1500s in Europe as sugar became available. The most basic definition is “a kernel of something coated with sugar.” It can be a nut (like Jordan Almonds) or a seed, like Anis de Flavigny.

The pastille was often the work of a pharmacist or herbalist, not a confectioner. They started with seeds or herbs that were prescribed for various reasons (fever, digestion, impotence), then coated with sugar syrup, tossed in a pan and repeated until layer upon layer is built up. The most talented pharmacists made beautiful pastilles that looked like shimmering opalescent spheres and were kept as if they were treasures as well, inside ornate boxes, often locked by the lady of the household.

imageAnis de l’Abbaye Flavigny may have one of the longest histories of a candy, as the town of Flavigny may have been making the little candies since Roman times. Whatever the timeline and beginnings may be, in modern times the pastilles have been made by confectioners in those largely unchanged traditions. Anis de Flavigny is one of those companies that has been carrying on for hundreds of years. Each pastille takes fifteen days to make ... they are labor intensive (though the materials themselves are rather cheap). They still start with a single fennel seed and (as you can see from the photo) a sugar syrup is poured over it, tumbled until dry then repeated dozens of times. (See the Anis de Flavigny site.)


Anis de Flavigny makes a large array of delicately distinctive flavors, all rather classic and old world.

Anise, Licorice, Rose, Violet, Orange Blossom and Mint. The tins tell a little story as two lonesome young people pine in solitude, then meet, share their candies and finally consummate their affection (on the violet tin - which modestly only shows us the flowers and not our young lovers).

I’m quite taken with them. I’ve been eating them since I was a kid. I know they’re not particularly snazzy. The tins are simple (though redesigned recently, they still look classic) and the candy unchanged by time and trends.

The only trend it appears they’ve responded to is that they now have an Organic line. The only difference I can tell is that the sugar is not pure white, so the little pastilles are a little beige. I kind of like the look. The flavors are the same, though I did have Ginger in the organics that I’ve not had in the regular ones.

The little candies have a slightly soft and rough feeling to the surface. The sugar itself is dense and even the package warns you against crunching them. (I do, but they have to get down to about a third of their size.) I liked to eat mine two at a time, rolling them around on my tongue like Chinese health balls. The friction of the pastilles against each other releases the sugar a bit faster. Call me impatient. But I do have a dexterous tongue and can also tie a cherry stem in a knot with it. Not that I eat cherries that often.

The floral candies (orange blossom, violet and rose) have a lovely soft flavor to them without feeling soapy. They’re great for getting rid of bad breath, especially since they take so long to dissolve. The spicier flavors like anise and licorice are rooty and natural tasting without feeling artficial (pretty much because they’re not). The mint is softer than many of the modern super-mints like Altoids with a smooth melt on the tongue and an even amount of mint. The flavor is strong as you dissolve the first few layers away and then mellows out. Towards the center the gentle hint of anise from the fennel seed emerges.

I was quite excited to have a full set of their most popular flavors, which I picked up at the Fancy Food Show in January. It’s taken me months to get through all of them. Not because I didn’t want to eat them, but they just last so dang long. I love each and every flavor. Yes, they’re really expensive at $2 to $3 a tin. (I don’t know why I can’t find the assorted package online.) I prefer them to just about every other breath mint on the market. It was a little unclear if the organic line will be available in the States because of the differing certification processes.

Italy also has their long-standing tradition of panned sweets with the Pietro Romanengo fu Stefano company. They not only do the small pastille dragee but also a wider variety of panned spices, fruits and nuts.  I’ll have a profile of those at some point as well.

Related Candies

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  3. 3400 Phinney: Fig, Fennel & Almond and Hazelnut Crunch
  4. Licorice Assortment
  5. Romanego Dragees, Cordials & Fondants
  6. Chocolate Covered Sugar Babies
Name: Anis de l'Abbaye Flavigny
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Anis de Flavigny
Place Purchased: samples from Fancy Food Show
Price: retail $2.50 each
Size: 1.75 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Licorice, Ginger, Mint, France, Organic

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:13 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

  1. I love the Violet Pastilles.  In fact, I just picked some up a couple of weeks ago at Ralphs.  They are so pretty smelling (and tasting) without being too perfumey.  Quite understated and lovely.

    Comment by Julilla on 4/18/07 at 10:42 am #
  2. any place to purchase these? Even online? Any advice please. .


    Comment by jack on 4/18/07 at 10:57 am #
  3. Cybele's avatar

    Jack - I saw them on Amazon. If you really love them CandyWarehouse also has them, but you have to buy 12 at a time. But as Julilla mentioned, she found them at the grocery store, so check around.

    Comment by Cybele on 4/20/07 at 11:15 am #
  4. You can purchase these from French Feast in either the tin or a 8.2 oz. box

    Comment by Linda on 4/28/07 at 7:56 am #
  5. I picked up a tin of the Violet ones at a World Market in Dallas the other day ($2.59 including tax)...and was totally put off by the violet taste.  I found that crunching them to get the anise flavor made it slightly better.  I liked the subtle anise flavor, but is it worth it to try the other flavors if I didn’t like the Violet?

    Comment by suebee on 5/03/07 at 7:59 am #
  6. I bought the Rose flavored at World Market and it was delicious.  Expensive, so I’m trying hard not to eat them all.  Love them, new favorite.

    Comment by Elizabeth on 9/01/07 at 10:30 pm #
  7. Apparently Cost Plus has stopped carrying these, to my immense frustration.  Cybele, or anyone else in LA, please let me know if you’ve seen these around lately at any local stores.  You will make my day.

    Comment by Miss Heavenly Angora on 2/19/08 at 11:05 am #
  8. Cybele's avatar

    Miss Heavenly Angora - I saw some varieties at Mel & Rose’s Wine & Spirits on Melrose when I was there a couple of weeks ago.

    Comment by Cybele on 2/19/08 at 11:10 am #
  9. Awesome.  Much appreciated.

    Comment by Miss Heavenly Angora on 2/19/08 at 12:07 pm #
  10. Where can I purchase Flavigny’s direct for my Wholesale Co. please?
    Four Seasons Candy

    Comment by Four Seasons Candy on 6/18/08 at 2:52 pm #
  11. These are my favourite hard candies, but you forgot to mention the best flavour. I remember a pretty little tin with yellow flowers and a girl in a blue dress. The tin simply said “Jessamin”. I don’t know what the actual flavour was, but I remember it being light, fresh, and sweet. Yum smile

    Comment by Rubyservice on 7/21/08 at 5:38 pm #
  12. You can buy these at
    They have dozen flavors

    Comment by martin on 11/04/08 at 7:14 am #
  13. Someone brought back a tin from Paris.  My then nine-year old called them rose-flavored pebbles.

    I like ‘em.

    Comment by Caroline on 1/04/10 at 6:50 pm #
  14. I am looking for a place where I can purchase Flavigny Violet and Rose pastilles. The stores where I used to purchase them, Cost Plus World Market and Bristol Farms, no longer carry them. Does anyone know where I can purchase them in either Los Angeles or San Bernadino counties? I would appreciate the information…

    Comment by Kathleen on 1/29/10 at 10:26 am #
  15. I’ve tried almost all flavours, and am glad that I have. Until I read your review, I didn’t know they existed.  I wish that they were easier to find overall. I would love to try mandarin and ginger in their organic line.

    If any readers live in Vancouver, BC Canada, you can find several of the flavours at Famous Foods on Kingsway for a decent price (well, compared to what you normally can get them for). I also found them at Urban Fare.

    Comment by Lillea on 1/18/12 at 9:19 pm #
  16. Where can I buy the Anis de Flavigny wholesale to sell in my store?

    Comment by Lisa on 2/23/12 at 10:40 am #
  17. Anyone know where to get any of these in the Seattle/Tacoma, even Olympia area?  Especially the violet.  Loved them since childhood. Cost Plus still isn’t carrying them, the last time I checked.

    Comment by Lara on 12/04/12 at 10:44 am #
  18. How can I buy Flavigny candies?

    Comment by Dr. Gideon Tolkowsky on 9/06/13 at 9:29 am #
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