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In a twist over which red rules

September 12, 2004|Christine N. Ziemba

For more than 80 years, a great debate has raged in candy aisles and concession stands throughout America. It's a polemic that divides the country geographically like the Mason-Dixon line: Are Red Vines better than Twizzlers?

Although both of these licorice confections have basically the same ingredients -- including the mysterious red dye No. 40 -- candy enthusiasts are entrenched in one camp or the other. The discussion of these red twists has reached the Web, and although they may not be as eloquent as Lincoln or Douglas, some bloggers are just as passionate, vehement -- and at times unprintable -- about their preference.

According to Werbal_Kint on's (a film website) message boards, "Red Vines ... kick ass, AND they're cheaper. Twizzlers taste like they're made of wax." Amy, on the Christian webzine, agrees, "Twizzlers are not a substitute for Red Vines -- they should never have been invented. Red Vines are the true movie candy."

A Twizzlers fan on speculates that a person's licorice predilection is directly related to his or her region of the country: "Red Vines are West Coast and Twizzlers are East Coast. I'm confident of that part. The theory part comes in when you try to put in the divider line in the middle of the country. I'm not sure if it is the Mississippi or the Rockies."

The premise does have its merits. Twizzlers' origins can be traced to New York's Young & Smylie confectionary firm in 1845, which was bought by Hershey Foods in 1977. The American Licorice Co. of Chicago premiered its Black Licorice Vines in 1914. The Classic Raspberry Vines (Red Vines' original moniker) made their debut six years later.

So although Twizzlers may have the New York market cornered, Red Vines are definitely Hollywood's favorite. The candy even lists its credits on its website,, citing appearances in "Friends," "Six Feet Under," both "Wayne's World" films, and "Die Hard."

And Aimee Mann's song, "Red Vines," from her "Bachelor No. 2" album, just wouldn't have the same ring without the line: "Knowing all that you've got are cigarettes and Twizzlers ... "


-- Christine N. Ziemba

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