Shopping in the Riviera Maya is a fun, culturally enlightening adventure to experience. Especially when the objective is Mexican candy. Featuring a gamut of flavors that run from sweet to bitter to spicy, Mexican candy is a delicious souvenir to take home and a lively conversation starter about your amazing trip to Mexico.
Engaging with local vendors and searching through shelves can be an exciting adventure. Right in Akumal, you can comb through exquisite goodies at Mexicarte, El Pueblito, and even OXXO. If you’re in Playa del Carmen or Tulum, make sure you stop by Super Chedraui! They have the best selection of authentic Mexican candy which you’ll find in the Deli section.
Authentic Mexican candy is surprisingly budget-friendly—the bounty of candy shown below was just $35 and delighted all my extended family and friends from work. The smell, flavor, and texture of these delicious sundries will transport you back to your days on the beach in Akumal. An explosion of tantalizing flavors in your mouth, it’s a quick and easy fix until your next vacation to paradise. It’s no surprise that as of 2010 Mexico has been on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List for its cuisine, and though this accolade isn’t precisely due to its sweets, these are nonetheless a gourmand’s treat.
Chocolate (cho-coh-lah-teh) The Mayan civilization was the first to discover that cacao could be harvested and even considered it “food of the gods,” so be sure to pick up a few bars before you go home. Legend says Quetzalcoatl (the feathered serpent) came down from heaven bringing gifts for man. Even though the cacao plant was only for the gods, Quetzalcoatl loved the humans so much that he taught them how to harvest, roast, grind and churn the cacao into chocolate.
Palanqueta (pah-lan-keh-tas) This is the ultimate power snack, similar to peanut brittle, that can be made of whole peanuts or pecans held together with molasses and can also be made of sesame, pumpkin, or sunflower seeds.
Foodie hack: Crumble these over your favorite ice cream and take your dessert game to the next level.
Word of the Day: Alegria means joy in Spanish
Alegria (ah-leh-gree-a) Another excellent power snack that dates back to the Aztecs who were among the first to cultivate the amaranth grain about 8,000 years ago. This treat is simply made of amaranth, pecans, and raisins, held together with honey. These are best kept in the fridge as they easily fall apart when warm.
Ate (ah-teh) This is commonly known as quince cheese, a thick jelly-like paste made from guava (guayaba), fig, peach, apricot or quince (membrillo) fruit. This is a favorite Mexican dessert traditionally served with manchego cheese.
Obleas (oh-bleh-as) Thin wafers filled with cajeta, a sweet caramelized goat milk often flavored with wine, hits the spot for just about every sweet tooth’s palate. Obleas can get pretty gooey in warm temperatures so keep these in a cool place too to avoid sticky situations.
Cocadas (koh-kah-das) Yummy goodness made of shredded candied coconut, held together with sweetened condensed milk. Cocadas can be all white, pink, or decorated the colors of the Mexican flag: red, white and green.
Tamarindo (tah-mah-reen-doh) If you never tasted a tamarind fruit, you must try the unique flavor. There are many different type of candies made with tamarind pulp, varying from sweet and sour to extremely hot. Definitely not for the faint of heart, but worth a try. If you’re into sour patch kids, then you may very well fall in love with tamarind.