YEAH! That is the coolest kind of parcel to receive, let me tell you. How did it happen that I was on the receiving end of such a treasure? Well, let me tell you, I did the best thing ever: I put two children on the job for me! Seriously, it was like having my own personal Oompa Loompas. Two very cool kids that I know were headed to Arizona for vacation. I told them to keep an eye out for cactus candy for me. A couple weeks later I received a parcel containing the above. AWESOME!
But seriously. We need to address something more serious than your jealousy about my awesome mail. It's possible not only that you've never heard of Cactus Candy, but that you've never even considered its existence. It's possible that the possibility of it has never even entered your mind.
And that pains me, sweet friends, because I really think you should know about this stuff. So...for your continuing life learning...
Cactus Candy: A Primer
What is cactus candy? Quite simply, it is candied cactus: pieces of cactus which have been coated and treated with a simple syrup mixture to make it immortal. It sort of resembles pate de fruit or gumdrops (but flat) in texture and look. However, keep an eye on the ingredients. As one candy blogger noted, in a sea of a Cactus Candy flavor assortment, only one flavor (Prickly Pear) actually contained cactus.
Where can I get cactus candy? In Phoenix, there is a cactus candy company. They have a store. They also sell cactus jelly and salsa and the like. But you don't have to visit the store to buy--they also wholesale to a lot of tourist type operations, so you'll see it in the greater Phoenix area. If nowhere else, you'll find it in the airport gift shop.
When is it in season? Well, prickly pear season is late Spring and summer, but really, in candy form, you can enjoy it just about any time.
Why is cactus candy a thing? Cactus is a pretty big deal in Arizona. Prickly pear, as it is called, is in frequent rotation regionally as an ingredient. It is used as a syrup, stand-alone ingredient, beverage component (prickly pear margarita, anyone?). It stands that the candy made from this local ingredient would feature prominently in local cuisine.
How is Cactus Candy Made? I'm not sure how the commercial candy is made, but I have seen recipes for DIY Cactus candy online. It basically goes like this: chop down a cactus, remove thorns and simmer in simple syrup for several days. You weren't busy, were you?
How does it taste? This is a fruit-ish flavor that isn't strongly recognizeable. It almost tastes like a few different fruits you can't quite put your finger on. It's not overwhelming or as signature as, say, lemon. But it's pleasant.
Curious to learn more? Check out cactuscandy.com.