Thursday, June 10, 2010

Barratt Liquorice Catherine Wheels

Liquorice Catherine WheelsBarratt makes fanciful and light confections with names like Sherbet Fountains, Frosties, Refreshers, Dip Dabs and Flumps. It’s all happiness and light ... or is it? They they also make Bruisers, Candy Sticks and Black Jacks - names that could be taken as harsh. They’re nothing compared to the Liquorice Catherine Wheels. Sure, Catherine Wheel is an outdated term for a cartwheel but it’s also a torture device named for the method of execution of Saint Catherine of Alexandria.

Okay, maybe we’ll consider the name to be taken from the cartwheel.

Like the American confectionery landscape, European candy makers have been consolidating for years, with smaller companies being bought up and integrated into multinational concerns. Barratt was most recently owned by Monkhill Confectionery which was in turn owned by Cadbury. They sold it off to Tangerine Confectionery in 2008, making Tangerine the #4 sweets maker in the United Kingdom.

Catherine Wheel

This particular candy is an interesting hybrid construction. Licorice strips are wound up around a nonpareil licorice button. The buttons came in a variety of colors - I saw pink, light blue and orange ones. This package had a tray of six wheels and clocked in at almost four ounces. (At first I was a little miffed that it was three bucks, but then I realized it wasn’t a single portion, it was at least three.) They’re made with natural flavorings and colorings, though a word of caution that they use carmine coloring ... but there’s also gelatin in there, so they’re not even close to vegetarian.

Catherine Wheels

Each wheel is pretty big. They’re about two thirds of an ounce each and the package says 60 calories. They’re two inches in diameter and the licorice belts are about a quarter of an inch. Unwound, there’s at least 34 inches of chewy black licorice strip. The strips are made of a wheat and molasses base and strongly flavored with licorice. They’re woodsy and dark, with a deep tangy note. The chew is stiff and kind of tough, but lasts a really long time. There’s no weird aftertaste from artificial colors.

Catherine Wheel

The center button is aromatic and reminded me more of anise and other balsamic compounds like lavender and rosemary than licorice itself. The nonpareils aren’t as crunchy as I would have thought, they’re actually smaller than something found on a SnoCap, so maybe that’s part of it. The jelly/gummi center is smooth and has a good chew to it. They’re a good bite and a light contrast to the molasses and charcoal notes of the black straps.

I was surprised and pleased by these. They’re fun to eat, since there are so many ways to approach the pieces. I like that there’s a variation in the textures and flavor profiles. I wish I could buy a smaller package though, maybe two or three at a time. The tray seemed silly, but maybe they need that to keep them from getting really stuck together. They’d probably make great decorations, like in the center of a cake (but far too much for a single cupcake).

So my European friends, is this the only brand of these or are there other variations on this? I’d like to try them all.

Related Candies

  1. Goetze’s Licorice and Double Chocolate Caramel Creams
  2. Panda Soft Herb Licorice and Licorice Cremes
  3. Broadway Black Licorice Rolls
  4. Walkers’ Nonsuch Liquorice Toffee
  5. Kookaburra Choc Coated Liquorice
  6. Bassett’s Licorice Allsorts

Name: Liquorice Catherine Wheels
Brand: Tangerine Confectionery
Place Purchased: Mel & Rose Wine & Liquors
Price: $1.99
Size: 3.99 ounces
Calories per ounce: 82
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Licorice Candy, 7-Worth It, United Kingdom

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:38 pm Tracker Pixel for Entry     All NaturalCandyReviewLicorice Candy7-Worth ItUnited Kingdom

  1. I haven’t seen these in years!  What a blast from the past.

    Comment by Pam on 6/10/10 at 4:31 pm #
  2. I’d bet the name is from the kind of fireworks, actually.

    Too bad I hate licorice things—these are really cute looking, and I’m always in the market for references to Catholic saints.  (St. Catherine was actually beheaded, btw.  The wheel broke apart when they tried to kill her with it.)

    Comment by Tintin LaChance on 6/10/10 at 5:10 pm #
  3. Sorry, my link didn’t work.  Let’s try a non-wikipedia page:

    Comment by Tintin LaChance on 6/10/10 at 5:11 pm #
  4. These are the only ones I’ve ever seen. (Then again, I don’t pay much attention to licorice products.)

    Comment by Distracter_writer on 6/11/10 at 10:24 am #
  5. Hiya just backing up Tintin, I’m from the UK too and definitely think it’s the fireworks that they’re referencing, they even look kinda similar.

    Comment by Sam on 6/12/10 at 3:35 am #
  6. Also from the uk, & always thought they referenced the firework.

    As for other similar candy, I think haribo does something similar, but without the center sweet & they are smaller in size. I think they are called Haribo Wheels.

    Comment by Georgina on 6/13/10 at 10:21 am #
  7. There are other makers of Catherine wheels, but these are definitely the best. The centre’s aniseed - you can also buy just these centres by weight in traditional sweetshops, usually called ‘spogs’.

    The fireworks reference the torture device and the sweets reference the fireworks, I think. Never heard the name refer to cartwheels.

    If you want any candy sent over from the UK, wd be happy to oblige!

    Comment by Debbie on 6/14/10 at 2:54 am #
  8. Loved the aniseed center but the black liquorice was a little mild for me. Still, I love food I can play with (like mint liquorice revolvers).

    Comment by Leigh on 7/20/12 at 1:37 am #
  9. Hi I was interested in all the comments as I developed the machines that winds these sweets. For interest we at the factory called the centre a button the ladies who operate the machines can wind 12 a minute. The machines wind 2 wheels at a time. The liq is called braid, hope you continue to enjoy these sweets

    Comment by Stewart Hollis on 8/06/12 at 3:40 pm #
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.

Next entry: Eat with your Eyes: Whirly Pops

Previous entry: Eat with your Eyes: Candy Cocktail
















  • .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
  • Here are some frequently asked questions emailed to me you might want to read first.


    For a daily update of Candy Blog reviews, enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner






Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.





Facebook IconTwitter IconTumblr IconRSS Feed IconEmail Icon


Candy Season Ends

-383 days

Read previous coverage



Which seasonal candy selection do you prefer?

Choose one or more:

  •   Halloween
  •   Christmas
  •   Valentine's Day
  •   Easter




These candies will be reviewed shortly: