Should candy pop and fizzle in your mouth? It seems a little unnatural, and we all know what didn’t actually happen to Mikey when he mixed Pop Rocks and soda. But Pop Rocks were still pretty fun: There was a blast of flavor and that exciting popping sensation. (And the chance that you would die, which makes everything more exciting.) But why bring chocolate into the mix? Chocolate is for older, more sophisticated candy consumers. But that’s exactly what Wonka did with Wonka Tinglerz. They aren’t the first, either! There were chocolate-covered Pop Rocks (which failed to light the candy business on fire) and Pop Rocks chocolate bars (which were just dumb, and didn’t taste good).
I’m not sure if this stuff is popular in Mexico or what, but Tinglerz have been marketed in Los Angeles for a while, and the packaging features language prominently in both Spanish and English. (“Chocolatitos que revientan en tu boca.”) To keep things interesting for this Taste Test, we also tasted a Mexican candy-like substance I found at Target (and which is apparently available in bodegas across America) called Pelonazo. Some Internet research led me to this: Pelonazo is a variety of something called Pelon Pelo Rico. According to Wikipedia, the name loosely translates to “delicious hair bald,” because when you squeeze it out of the strange dispenser, it looks a lot like the Play-Doh hair salon.
But first, on to the less-exciting one: Tinglerz, despite their wicked purple bag, aren’t too explosive, but they’re actually pretty tasty. Unlike the Pop Rocks candy bar, which used miserably cheap chocolate, these were actually edible. There wasn’t a ton of pizzazz, though. At first, they just taste like Nestle Buncha Crunch, which isn’t a bad thing at all. After the chocolate has melted, the popping begins. There’s no taste to it beyond chocolate, and nothing to be gained except a tiny bit of excitement in your otherwise dreary, boring life.
Pelonazo, on the other hand… This shit had us perplexed from the get-go. It’s contained in what looks like a little plastic frosting gun, and once you pull off the serious plastic wrapping and pop off the red top, you need to push really hard to get the gummy substance out. When it finally emerged, it was thick, sticky, and glue-like—we had to scrape it off and eat it with plastic knives. (Presumably little kids just chew it right off the end, which must leave them filthy.)
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The actual taste found mixed reactions: It’s basically just sugar and chili powder, which isn’t a bad combination at all. It’s much simpler than most candy, and it would seem almost old-fashioned if it didn’t come in a package emblazoned with a rockin’ cool, buggy-eyed tamarind flower.
Further research led us to the Hershey’s website in Mexico, which offers a staggering array of Pelon Pelo Rico products, most of which I can’t begin to figure out. (There’s one with a roller tip!) Google Translator didn’t help much, either. But then again, maybe this mysterious product is better if we don’t know exactly what we’re eating.
Oh, and something else I discovered on Wikipedia! I’m just gonna quote this directly, because my fellow Taste Testers don’t even know it yet:
“Pelon Pelo Rico has been implicated in the ongoing controversy in the United States surrounding unhealthy levels of lead in imported candies. It has tested high for lead in nearly 20 percent of government tests between 1994 and 2004. It has also been suspected in a number of lead poisoning cases.”
For extra excitement, we asked Internet Eating Sensation Dave Chang to put an entire bag of Tinglerz in his mouth, then chase it with some Pelonazo, which he did.
Then we tested the strength of Pelonazo’s stickiness by unscientifically applying some to a Tinglerz bag and seeing what we could pick up. Another Tinglerz bag? No problem. A paper plate? Easy. A fairly large cardboard box? It mostly held.
• “Pretty good, actually. I’d eat these on a regular basis.”
• “They taste like Buncha Crunch.”
• “Very similar to the pork cracklins, but with chocolate.”
• “I would eat these, but not for the tingling.”
• “It’s still going!”
• “These are fun. The chocolate’s shit, but the sensation is interesting. After a couple small handfuls, though, you've had enough.”
• “Like bits of Nestlé Crunch bars. Little chocolate-coated crispies that go pop in your throat.”
• “The level of popping is disappointing. I was expecting a candy that scattered shards of delicious chocolate inside my mouth, like a chocolate firecracker.”
• “It’s like a delayed popping reaction.”
• “I’m just gonna suck it.” [Chorus of “That’s what she said.”]
• “I get the impression that it’s spreading the flavor all through my mouth.”
• “It comes out like Play-Doh hair.”
• “It’s like watching hair grow.”
• “Everything tastes better coming out of a plunger.”
• “Reminds me of that dried-up layer of barbecue sauce that gets stuck between the bottle and the cap.”
• “That’s really shitty candy. It is meant to be eaten?”
• “If you were eating this yourself, how would you eat it? You need a knife.”
• “Taramind candy is all over the Mexican candy place by my house. And I have yet to find it good. Maybe it's a cultural thing? And why have it as goop that’s so damn difficult to reach?”
• “Oh, I do not like that!” [Shakes head furiously.]
• “It’s like cayenne toothpaste!”
• “It has the consistency of toothpaste, and tastes like Fruit By The Foot.” “What kind of old-ass toothpaste are you using?”
• “Totally gross. It’s just not gonna go away in my mouth, either.”
Where to get them: We found the Tinglerz at a local Walgreen's, and the Pelonazo in the “impulse buy” area at Target.