It’s National Sour Candy Day this July 18, and our taste buds are already tingling in anticipation! Move over, sweet candy, and let the sour take over in honor of this day. These fun, zesty bite-sized candies come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors, and we can’t wait to taste them all! From chewy twists and ropes to small hard candies, each one delivers on its promise to create a walloping big punch of sourness inside our mouths.
History of National Sour Candy Day
All throughout history, people have enjoyed sour fruits and foods, but sour candy is a relatively new phenomenon, even when compared to regular candy. The NPR says this is because mass-produced candy did not have a great reputation when the industry first came about, in the 19th century. People were concerned about the unclean conditions in which they were made and the potentially harmful chemicals being used in the colorful sweets. For the most part, manufacturers did not stray into unknown territory to manufacture sour candies. There were a few exceptions, however. These manufacturers relied on acidic ingredients — most commonly, vinegar — to convert cane sugar to glucose, creating a sweet-tart combination.
Over the years, candy makers began to crave an increase in appeal. So they turned to the greatest opportunity they could find — Halloween. They ran Halloween-themed advertising that created a long-lasting association between this festival and candy. This association allowed candy makers to experiment with flavors not normally sold to the public, and the sour candy market officially took off. For example, Ferrara Pan Candy Company introduced a sour candy called the Atomic Fireball right around the time of the U.S. military’s first detonation of the hydrogen bomb. This candy — filled with capsaicin and cinnamaldehyde — would end up leaving the mouth numb.
By the end of the 19th century, the sour candy craze had spread all over the U.S. A contributing factor was the sour candy known as Warheads, by the Foreign Candy Company. Their founder, Peter De Yager, actually traveled throughout East Asia — ground zero for sour candy — to find the sourest variety of candy and he found it in Taiwan.
The American Licorice Company — who have their own sour candy line — founded National Sour Candy Day. They wanted to celebrate this sweet and they encourage more people to experience all the wonderful flavors of sour candy on this day.
National Sour Candy Day timeline
Mass-produced candy is looked upon with trepidation by most consumers and candy makers don't want to risk experimenting with tastes for fear of losing credibility.
Candy makers create ad campaigns that forever link candy to Halloween — doing this also allows them the freedom to slowly introduce new flavors and types of candy.
The Atomic Fireball leaves a tart taste, and the sour candy market slowly begins to erupt.
Lemonhead candy — which utilizes citric acid to mimic the sour flavor — is introduced and it is a hit.
Peter De Yager — founder of the Foreign Candy Co. — brings Warheads to U.S. shores from Thailand, which has a huge impact on the sour candy market.
The American Licorice Company establishes National Sour Candy Day.
National Sour Candy Day FAQs
Is sour candy good for you?
While a popular treat, eating too many sour candies — as with any sweet — can cause dental issues. Additionally, as sour candies contain a high level of acid, eating too many of them erodes the enamel on the teeth.
What is the sourest candy in the world?
The 8 sourest candies in the world, according to Candy Club are:
- Sour Nerds.
- Sour Skittles.
- Sour Patch Kids Extreme.
- Sour Flush Candy Toilets.
- Taveners Sour Lemon Drops.
- Cry Baby Tears.
- Toxic Waste.
How To Celebrate National Sour Candy Day
Give regular old candy a break on this day and try some sour delights. If you are already a fan, try out new flavors and combinations of sour candy. Choose between the Sour Punch candy range, the Atomic Fireball, or the Lemonhead. And why eat alone? Grab a bag of candy to share with friends and family.
One of the characteristics of sour candy is its ability to make anyone and everyone pucker their lips because of the taste. Try out the sourest flavor you can find and record your pucker. Hold a sour candy pucker competition with friends and see who makes the best pucker. The winner gets a giant bag of sour candy — of course!
Keep an eye out for special events
Previously, the founders of this day would celebrate by hosting special events. You can track the Sour Punch posts on their Facebook and Twitter accounts for updates. You can even create your own mini event online (or offline), with events like the 'Best Pucker' competition, the 'Sourest Candy Challenge', and more.
5 Fun Facts About Sour Candy
Different acids, different tastes
Candy makers carefully choose ingredients to make the perfect recipe as the different acids used in sour candy — citric acid, malic acid, tartaric acid, fumaric acid, etc. — all have different levels of sourness.
Beer and candy with the same taste?
Lactic acid, which is used in 'sour' beer, is the same ingredient used in some types of sour candy.
Sour candy for kids
Candy makers have increasingly been marketing sour or fruity candy to kids over the past 20 years.
Toilet-shaped sour candy
There is a type of sour candy — Sour Flush Candy Toilets — where the candy is a toilet plunger and you dip it into a plastic ‘toilet’ full of sour sugar.
Sour candy for a blocked salivary gland
Sour candy like Sour Skittles can be used to relieve blocked salivary glands — although it should be eaten in moderation.
Why We Love National Sour Candy Day
It might be evolution
The sour taste — usually associated with acids — is found in relatively few naturally occurring foods, like vitamin C. Evolutionary history shows we could not produce vitamin C and we had to source it from the environment. This could explain why humans like sour things — we are evolutionarily programmed to!
It helps cancer patients
Sour candy cannot be used as a treatment, of course, but it is a great help for patients undergoing cancer treatments. Many cancer medications and therapies, including chemotherapy and radiation therapy, cause severe changes in taste. Sucking on sour candies helps increase salivation and regulate taste.
It tickles our taste buds
Sweet is a known and predictable taste. Sour, on the other hand, not only makes our face work out, but it also tickles the heck out of our taste buds. We love this sensation.
National Sour Candy Day dates