Last week, as I drove back up to Berkeley after spring break, I did what any sane young adult would do and stocked up on the best junk food the Kettleman City gas station had to offer. Everyone knows that calories consumed on a road trip don’t actually count. Among many other treats, I grabbed a small box of Red Vines, thinking that they might make a fun straw for my Diet Coke if I bit off both ends. Old habits die hard. With snacks in tow, I hopped into my car and continued on my journey back to school.
In between podcasts and belting out “Defying Gravity” from Wicked at the top of my lungs, I again did what any sane young adult would do and turned to Instagram to check up on my peers. Before you roll your eyes, I was doing the trek solo this time and needed a little social interaction to ease the sounds of musical theater still ringing in my ears. I posted a photo on my Instagram story of me eating Red Vines with a poll jokingly asking a “very important research question: Red Vines or Twizzlers?” Without meaning to, I started one of the most controversial debates of our day. Bigger than Coke or Pepsi. More personal than Cheeseboard or Sliver. More impassioned than Berkeley or Stanford. So controversial, in fact, that over the course of the next few hours, I received more than 10 direct messages voicing disappointment, confusion and even rage from the poll results, which largely favored Red Vines (duh). By the time I got home, a chart was posted on my kitchen bulletin board. Four of my seven roommates had already cast their votes: two for Twizzlers, one for Red Vines and one in the middle. This was serious business.
All jokes aside, I was genuinely surprised by the reaction this question received — so much so that I decided to write an entire article outlining the key arguments on both sides of the controversy! And what better timing than today, which is National Licorice Day? While we at the Clog don’t like actual licorice, we’ve compiled the most compelling cases for the real MVPs — Red Vines and Twizzlers — voiced in a focus group held in my living room this past week. Per usual, my research participants are my seven lovely and highly opinionated roommates. It is my sincere hope that the next time one of your annoyingly self-indulgent friends decides to create an Instagram poll out of sheer boredom (ahem, me), you’ll be an informed voter, able to confidently participate in the democratic process.
A case for Red Vines:
“Sticky, but not, like, Milk Dud sticky, Red Vines are honestly just so fun to eat.” One research participant declared that “Twizzlers are for kids, while Red Vines are for ADULTS.” She went on to explain that while Red Vines are undoubtedly a candy, they felt somehow more “refined” and “healthier” than other sugary options. “They don’t make my teeth hurt,” another participant went on to explain, “and the texture sort of reminds me of those healthy fruit leathers my mom used to sneak into my lunchbox as a kid. In a good way!”
Fans loved the matte color and explained to their opponents that “matte is a beautiful thing, and that (they’re) just trained to want all candy to be shiny and chewy.” Red Vine lovers felt that Twizzlers were too thick and resembled wax rather than a delicious fruity candy. In response, a Red Vine hater declared, “If you got a Red Vine wet, you could probably use it as you would use a crayon.” The gasps were audible. Four of the eight members of the household, including myself, are in favor of Red Vines.
A case for Twizzlers:
With “so much variety in different flavors that are all great, different sizes, and [even a] pull-apart” variety, Twizzlers were described by some as “just overall better.” One taste tester explained that “Twizzlers are a good kind of wax, smooth and tasty, while Red Vines are just grainy and MATTE??” This matte quality, another Twizzler fan explained, is “a horrible thing. Who wants a MATTE candy?” Another Twizzler voter was brave enough to share the disturbing story of the one time she “threw up Red Vines because (she) ate too many; Twizzlers had never done that to (her),” even in instances when the same quantity was consumed. A Red Vine fan reminded this participant that “correlation is not causation.”
One Twizzler hater explained, “Twizzlers taste like they melted Tupperware containers and then molded them into strings and braided them together.” Another participant explained that “Twizzlers remind (her) of the wax that you put on your braces so that they don’t cut your lip.” Four of the eight members of the household voted in favor of Twizzlers.
For the record, the final results of my poll, which had a sample size of 327, put Red Vines ahead with 64 percent of the vote and Twizzlers with 36 percent. Just as I have my good taste in candy, I apparently have good taste in friends. To quote Robert Reich, “What do you think?”