Name: Skwinkles Salsagheti
Found at: Bodega "R" Ranch, Tustin
Cost: $2.99 for 12 count box
Ingredients: Straws: Corn Syrup, Wheat Flour, Sugar, Dextrose, Sorbitol, Citric Acid, Partially Hidrogenated [sic] Vegetable Oil, Chili Powder, Glycerin, Iodized Salt, Wheat Fiber, Sodium Lactate, Lactic Acid, Sodium Citrate, Malic Acid, Artifical Flavor, Mono and Diglicerides, Lecitin Soy [sic], Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate (To Maintain Freshness), Colors FD&C (Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6), Titanium Dioxide.
Sauce: Water, Sugar, Iodized Salt, Citric Acid, Chli Powder, Modified Corn Starch, Caramel Color, Xhantan [sic] Gom [sic], Carboxymetheylcellulose, Arabic Gom [sic], Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate (To Maintain Freshness), Ascorbic Acid, Artificial Flavor.
Why I Bought It: I'm of the belief that anything that rhymes with "sprinkles" can't be all bad. And immediately you think of what other things it sounds like. Skittles! Twinkies!
On that note, "Skwinkles" appears to be a form of portmanteau. (Can you say "portmanteau" kids?) That's where two words are blended into one word, such as "Spam", "spork" and "brunch."
Though I'm unsure of what two words make up "Skwinkles" (hopefully not "Skunk" and "Twinkles") not only are portmanteaus fun, you can't say this one without smiling.
Say it with me: SKWINKLES!
But that's not the only portmanteau to ponder. No, that would be the "Salsagheti" part. Salsa? Spaghetti? Hope you're still smiling because this...is CANDY!
Tasting Notes: There were two kinds: mango and watermelon. Both, I might add, are "Hot". That is, it's "Hot Mango" and "Hot Watermelon". Not the Paris Hilton definition either. The gummy candy strands -- packaged in trays like noodles -- are covered in chili powder, salt and sugar. It looked like a pasta dinner that's been dropped in the sand at the beach.
The flavor is sweet-and-sour, but mostly sour. The mango actually reminded me of Sour Punch Straws with a pleasant spicyness that followed. Of course, it plays on the popular Mexican street snack of mango dusted with chili powder.
Before you take this recommendation and buy yourself some Skwinkles, I must tell you that I grew up in SouthEast Asia eating mangoes marinated in chili and mangoes dipped in fermented shrimp paste. So to my palate, this combination is not a foreign one.
But while the "hot" mango was good, the "hot" watermelon was something else. It was the first time the two flavors shared real estate on my tongue, and I wanted to evict. It made me visibly wince. The combo inexplicably turned bitter on me like a bad chemical reaction.
If you think that's the end of the story, you'd be wrong. Included in each package was a packet of sauce!
Let me repeat: A PACKET OF SAUCE! A tamarind sauce to be drizzled over the top of the candy!!
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Its name, after all, is Salsagheti. And since they took the spaghetti part literally, of course there had to be salsa.
I tore open the satchel, poured its contents onto the mound and took a soaked strand into my mouth. The liquid did not make things better, like trying to douse an inferno with gasoline shower. Now it was sour AND bitter; and plus, it made a mess since I had to eat the candy with my fingers.
The sauce by itself on eggs or tacos might be quite tasty, but putting it on candy -- especially this candy -- seemed muy loco.
The next morning, I took a Hot Watermelon Salsaghetti to the office for a few co-workers to sample. I didn't get many takers except for one, who devoured it and asked for more. I told him that I was saving the rest for the neighborhood trick-or-treaters.