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Laffy Taffy is a nostalgic treat that lives in the hearts and memories — and possibly the dental work — of generations. Whether you came for the goofy dad jokes on the wrapper and stayed for the sticky, chewy confection inside or vice-versa, this gooey treat was almost certainly a part of your childhood. Though it originated in the ’70s with the Beich candy company, Laffy Taffy was acquired by Nestle in 1994, sold under the Willy Wonka Candy name, and eventually landed with the Ferrara line of fun foods.
The legacy of Laffy Taffy includes a collection of flavors that have changed through the years. The flavors have even inspired Laffy Taffy spin-off products like jellybeans and lip gloss. Though the wheel o’ flavors has settled into a strictly fruit-oriented selection, it should come as no surprise to anyone who’s tasted this treat that there are no actual bananas, green apples, or real fruit of any kind included in the recipes for the current line-up. Laffy Taffy’s weird and sometimes wonderful flavor palette is a fully artificial creation that all seems to fall under the single heading of "natural flavor," which is really the product of food science and a bit of confectionary madness.
So which of the current flavors ranks as the top of the taffy tastes and which belongs at the bottom of the candy barrel? We’ve ranked them to help discerning Laffy Taffy tastes make the distinction.
In the world of candy flavors, grape is usually a tough nut to crack. The cloying throat sizzle of grape sno-cone syrup gets it wrong from top to bottom. Jolly Rancher hard candy sets the standard for confectionary grape flavor, a formulation that comes closer to the saturated sweetness of Welch’s grape juice than an actual grape. Laffy Taffy’s version of grape flavoring is far subtler. With a slightly floral profile, it’s what grapes might taste like they if they were made in a lab for people who like their tastebuds but aren’t particularly concerned with nutrition … or nature.
It’s a middling flavor overall, not especially memorable but also not offensive. It wouldn’t be a recommended first choice when picking Laffy Taffy Minis from a mixed selection, but it would certainly be allowable if grape were the only flavor left in the bowl. In this case, only avid fans would be advised to have the last Laff.
8. Blue Raspberry
Since blue raspberries are only found in the imaginations of candy makers, it’s confusing to see Laffy Taffy proclaim their own blue raspberry flavor as "wild." Perhaps it’s a reference to just how blue their version of raspberry tastes, which is even weirder since blue isn’t a flavor. While the wrapper proudly points out that there are no artificial flavors, it has to be said that the blue raspberry flavor is found nowhere in nature.
There is also no real raspberry flavor in blue raspberry anything, a fact that extends to Laffy Taffy. While the color is a striking throwback to saltwater taffy from old-time silent-e-at-the-end candy shoppes, the flavor is a tongue-tingling tribute to berries in general, but not to raspberry specifically. It’s tangier than cherry and more fun than strawberry, but it’s nowhere near the top of the list. Maybe someday food science will decrypt the secret recipe for the flavor of actual raspberries. Until then, there are better Laffy Taffy choices to be made.
7. Mystery Swirl
What can be said about a flavor that doesn’t identify itself on the wrapper or in the color of its taffy? Not much, according to the Mystery Swirl label. It does announce itself as a swirl of not one but two different unidentified flavors, which is part of the fun of this Laffy Taffy variation. All the subterfuge begs the question: if you can’t identify one flavor, how will you know if you’ve identified two of them? Are these existing Laffy Taffy flavors you’re trying to identify or are they brand new flavors dreamed up by mad candy scientists? And what if you taste a blend and mistake it for a single flavor … does that qualify as a third flavor?
It seems like a lot of mental work for something that’s supposed to be a treat. Maybe the best way to approach Laffy Taffy like this is to close your eyes and go for it, letting your tastebuds taste whatever they taste. It isn’t likely to be attached to reality, no matter what flavor you think you’re tasting. But the suspense is thrilling, which puts Mystery Swirl in the middle of the leaderboard.
6. Sparkle Cherry
Maybe the only world in which "sparkle" qualifies as a flavor is the world of Laffy Taffy. Considering that people often refer to Laffy Taffy by its color rather than its flavor, adding a bit of edible glitter to create sparkle cherry might be a sensible new direction to take an iconic candy. The sparkles add more than shine to the sticky goo in the wrapper; it also adds crunch, like sprinkles on a cupcake.
The flavor is only available in larger-sized bars, which includes the added bonus of a stretchier, chewier version of the Taffy to go with the crispy crunch of … whatever the sparkles are made of. While crackling taffy isn’t as thrilling a confection as, say, a chocolate bar filled with Pop Rocks, it’s a unique take on the usual chew. It’s also the only flavor that contains anything other than standard Laffy Taffy, so it gets bonus ranking points for innovation.
There’s almost no way to get cherry flavoring wrong when it comes to candy, and Laffy Taffy comes up with a winner in their version. This vivid flavor hits you right in the tastebuds and reminds you of childhood days when your drugstore candy purchases where the extent of your worries. Cherry Laffy Taffy is only available in the larger products such as Stretchy & Tangy bars, which rate highly among taffy fans willing to put their opinions in writing, or at least in stars.
Its familiarity makes it a comfortable choice when reaching for a sugary chew; the color won’t fool you into thinking you’re getting anything more than the slightly tart flavor that makes the day a little sunnier. When it comes to Laffy Taffy, that’s all you can ask for. As a bonus that’s remarkably on brand, cherry also lends itself to some of the Laffy Taffy marketing team’s more groan-worthy puns.
Watermelon is another candy flavor that bears only a passing resemblance to the fruit it represents. Laffy Taffy gets it right enough for watermelon candy lovers to get their chewy fix. At one point, the clever folks at Wonka even went as far as adding candy "seeds" to provide a full-fledged watermelon experience — or as full-fledged as taffy and chocolate can get, at least. There’s even a petition at Change.org dedicated to getting the seeds put back in.
Though it’s unlikely to see a resurgence at this point, stranger things have happened. Until the power players in the candy game come to their senses and give the fanatics what they clamor for, the original watermelon Laffy Taffy is available as part of the core flavor set in the Stretchy and Tangy collection, and is a high-ranking member for its creativity. Eating a bar or two with a bag of chocolate chips is bound to satisfy the desperate sweet tooth in the meantime.
When it comes to flavor-matching with tastes from the natural world, strawberry Laffy Taffy does an admirable job. It’s a close approximation of a real strawberry, with soft floral notes and more brightness than grape. While it wouldn’t be mistaken for the flavor of an actual strawberry, it would be easy to identify if you were diving into a bag of Laffy Taffy while blindfolded. Though strawberry may not be much of a flavor sensation in Laffy Taffy form, it does appear throughout the entire product line, even if it does linger in the background for the most part. So much exposure for this sugary delight either means that strawberry is a favorite that fans just can’t get enough of, or it’s an easy flavor to produce in mass quantities for padding the product lines. Whichever it might be, the sheer volume of its happy pink presence puts it near the top of the pack … and since it’s Laffy Taffy we’re talking about, the pun is absolutely intended.
If banana Laffy Taffy proves anything, it’s that the Laffy Taffy crowd can be a fickle bunch. With its nostalgic resemblance to circus peanuts, a surreal candy phenomenon in its own right, banana seems to be the most popular Laffy Taffy flavor. Ironically, it also appears to be the least popular flavor. How is this even possible?
When Laffy Taffy decided to stretch the rules of flavor physics, they figured they might as well go for broke by twisting the rules of logic, too. The flavor is nowhere near real banana, which is where the kitschy charm lies, as well as the conflict. Haters also fault the strange oily mouthfeel that banana Laffy Taffy leaves, though banana diehards don’t seem to mind. It certainly didn’t stop Ferrara from launching a limited edition bag of banana-only Laffy Taffy bites in 2019 with Joel McHale as the official spokesman. This confusing dual personality could place banana at either the bottom of the list, the top of the list, or both at the same time. Since candy flavors don’t adhere to the rules of the quantum world, it appears near the bottom of this list … which is really the top. Any candy that can inspire such divisive love-hate conflict has to be doing something right.
1. Sour Apple
The shocking neon green color of this list-topping flavor announces that the taffy beneath the laffy can only be sour apple. Beyond its brilliant hue, the flavor of sour apple Laffy Taffy actually does resemble the fruit it’s based on, more than the other flavors resemble their namesakes. It also comes remarkably close to other sour apple-flavored candies, which is a check in the win column for anyone who loves that joyful sweet-and-tart zing.
It provides enough of a pop in the ol’ salivary glands to make you believe there might be actual apple juice hidden somewhere among the corn syrup and the palm kernel oil. Whether you call it green, sour apple, or sugary neon happiness, apple Laffy Taffy is the flavor to reach for before all the others. Luckily the labels are as vibrant as the taste, so you’ll have no trouble finding the best pieces in the bag before your friends do. Maybe they’ll be happy with banana instead.