Friday, April 23, 2010

Swizzels Matlow Parma Violets

Parma VioletsWhile most candy is fruit or spice flavored there are a few that are floral. Parma Violets, made by Swizzels Matlow, are probably one of the best known, perhaps because they’re widely available in the UK and pretty cheap.

They come in little rolls of tablets, similar to another Swizzels Matlow product, Swizzels Fizzers. (Those in North America are probably more familiar with Ce De Smarties, also known as Rockets in Canada.)

The name Parma Violet is for the city of Parma in Italy. Starting in the 1500s the violet plants (possibly originating in Africa or East Asia) were grown, hybridized and traded by the ruling elite. They spread through Europe in manicured gardens as well as greenhouses and sunporches in cooler climates. The flowers themselves, besides being cut and used in bouquets, were candied and used as decorations and eaten. Violet flavoring was common in candies like chocolate creams, fondants and dragees through World War I when it eventually fell out of favor. Of course it’s still around, but certainly not as ubiquitous.

Parma Violets

Parma Violets a compressed sugar tablet flavored like violet. The roll holds 14 little tablets that are 1/2 inch in diameter. They’re a soft lavender color and are now made with all natural colorings (since 2008).

The big difference I noticed in the ingredients is that they’re made with sugar (sucrose), not dextrose. Dextrose or glucose is the sugar of choice for Smarties and SweeTarts in the US, it’s a monosaccharide that is actually less sweet than sucrose (which is a disaccharide). Parma Violets are made from sucrose. So they’re quite sweet, sweeter than I expected from a “chalky” candy. The texture is the same as most other compressed sugar candies, it’s soft on the tongue and has a slow and sugary, slightly grainier melt.

Parma Violets

Of course the overriding flavor of the candy is violet. Yes, the flowery kind. A honey-sweet smell of violets - cloying and definitely not nuanced. Violet for me is a humid flavor, moist and sticky like syrup. Part of this is probably because I gathered bouquets of violets in the yard as a kid and associate the smell of the real thing with dewy grass. These are dry and don’t stimulate a whole lot of saliva from me.

The aftertaste is mellow and long-lasting. For folks who like jasmine, rose or orange blossom over mint as a breath freshener, violet might be for you.

The good news (at least for me) is that the package contained the smell adequately. Since I tend to carry around a lot of candy at once, it would have been a travesty to contaminate my Mast Chocolate Bars with violet.

They’re a curiosity for me, I ate three packages without complaint but only because they were in front of me. I can’t see buying them again, but I guess I’ll have to see if a craving kicks in. I prefer the panned layering of Anis de Flavigny.

Related Candies

  1. Anis de Flavigny
  2. The Apothecary’s Garden: Herbs (and some Bees)
  3. Flippin’ Giveaway!
  4. Mega Smarties
  5. Pierre Marcolini Chocolates
  6. Choward’s Violet


Name: Parma Violets
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Swizzels Matlow
Place Purchased: Mel & Rose Wine & Liquors
Price: $.50
Size: .25 ounces (7 grams)
Calories per ounce: 101
Categories: Candy, Compressed Dextrose, 5-Pleasant, United Kingdom

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:20 am Tracker Pixel for Entry     CandyReviewCompressed Dextrose5-Pleasant

Comments
  1. I LOVE the taste of Violets so I know I’d like these. It’s doubtful that I will find them here in NH but I’ll be on the lookout for them!

    Comment by Bonney on 4/23/10 at 11:33 am #
  2. These are my favorites… I used to get them from a british tea shop in San Diego, Just need to figure out how to get ‘em in the bay area…
    They also make them in a bigger size as well.

    Comment by Alexis on 4/23/10 at 12:42 pm #
  3. Ooooh! I tried these in Cambridge and couldn’t stand the flowery-ness. Violet candies definitely aren’t my thing.

    Comment by Rosa on 4/23/10 at 6:23 pm #
  4. Funny thing, a friend of mine was bragging the other day that he’d just had a Parma Violet milkshake (apparently it was awesome).
    This reminded me that in my purse, I’d had a couple of rolls of these Parma Violets, and some of the Fizzers that you mentioned, that were left over from my daughter’s birthday party in February. Which just goes to show how often I clear out my purse.
    So today I took them out, put them on the kitchen counter, which led my American husband to say “What are these?” and I kindly explained to the foreigner, and also that the Fizzers are most like what he knows as Smarties.

    And then, suddenly, HERE THEY ARE ON CANDY BLOG. This has been a week of people on the internet psychicing me, I’m telling you.

    Comment by Nivaya on 4/24/10 at 11:00 am #
  5. Hehe, I was just eating some of these today. They usually come in the mixed bags of swizzels matlows sweets, along with things like drumsticks, fizzers and mega lollies. These are the one sweet that no one else in my family likes, so I end up with them all because I quite like them! Not love, but they’re not bad either!

    Comment by Georgina on 4/24/10 at 4:26 pm #
  6. Those are gorgeous! I love the color of these so much that if I ever were lucky enough to find them in Missouri, I probably wouldn’t eat them. I think I’d put them in a pretty jar to display on my candy collectibles shelf!

    Comment by gracecarriveau on 4/24/10 at 5:46 pm #
  7. Forget the parma violets - I am interested in the fizzers.  I grew up in the states but I swear I remember having fizzers and liking them way more than smarties.  I was not sure if I had imagined this or if they really existed.  Did there used to be a US brand that made a fizzing version of smarties?  I took a quick look online for them and only found them available in the UK.  Does anyone know of somewhere in the US I can get them so I don’t have to pay overseas shipping rates on them?

    Comment by lynn on 4/26/10 at 6:34 am #
  8. I love violet flavor! Here in Madrid, violet candies are highly popular (in both senses: cheap and widely consumed). Also, I went to Berlin for a two-day trip and bought at the airport a sugared-violets chocolate bar. Fantastic!

    Comment by Rosa on 4/28/10 at 1:49 am #
  9. Could you plaese let me know if I can order Swizzels Matlow fizzers and parma violets through your co to the US?
                      thank you
                      Maria Dunn

    Comment by maria dunn on 2/10/11 at 3:03 pm #

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