Traditions are a big part of Christmas. One tradition that I enjoy is finding a package of licorice allsorts in my stocking. Even though my wife finds them rather vile, she still makes sure I have some over the holidays. Don't get me wrong, I'd eat them year round, but on some level I do associate them with the holidays.
In case you haven't figured it out by now, it's time for a Good/Bad/Ugly rating of the different components of licorice allsorts.
The Solid Licorice Cylinders: These are the licorice allsort equivalent of plain sugar donuts. No one really wants them, but for some reason they still exist. As far as licorice allsorts go, there are always too many of these in every package. The actual quantity may vary, as more than one per package is effectively too many. Why do you need to have at least one? Well, then you wouldn't have licorice ALLsorts, would you, just merely licorice MOSTsorts. And these are every bit as Ugly as that joke was.
Filling-Stuffed Licorice Tubes: From the side these look just like the solid licorice ones, but they are filled with a paste creme filling, and are of course are much, much tastier. The sad thing is that some candy makers don't include these, but instead seem to provide a double heaping of their solid licorice brethren. Frankly, that's a Bad trade-off.
Standard Licorice Sandwich: These are the stereotypical licorice allsort. Simple, square, and available in a variety of colours. I do say colours, and not flavours, because the flavours of the various colours are not especially divergent. Sure, the brown ones taste a bit different from the white ones, and not the same as the pink ones either, but it's hard to say exactly how the flavours differ. Taste subtleties aside, these are okay. And considering there are probably as many of them as all the other components in a typical bag of allsorts put together, that's a pretty Good thing.
Extra-Thick Licorice Sandwich: The standard licorice sandwich has three layers — paste, licorice, paste. The extra thick one has five layers, effectively adding another licorice and paste layer onto a standard sandwich. So while the licorice percentage creeps from a relatively low 33% up to 40%, the amount of the delicious paste filling increases by 50%, which is a worthy tradeoff. I do have one complaint about this one, though. They only make it with the white filling. They have other colours available to them, but for some reason they don't want to mix and match them. Which is a shame, because it would make an already Good part of licorice allsorts even better.
Licorice-Cored Button: I wouldn't call this a button myself, but that's how Bassett's, who invented licorice allsorts in the first place, describes them. At least, I assume these are the ones they call "buttons." These come in yellow and pink, and much like the sandwiches, the difference in flavour is subtle and hard to describe. Setting that aside, this is essentially an inverted filling-stuffed tube, with filling on the outside and licorice on the inside. Thankfully there is a lot more filling than licorice, but I do have trouble calling it filling when it's on the outside. But I have just as much trouble calling the licorice component filling, so where does that leave me? At least these are nice and tasty, which is Good, because the whole filling conundrum is a little vexing.
That Gummie Thing: Maybe this is what Bassett's actually refers to as a button. Personally, I think that "thing" is a more apt description. It's a disc of gummie-type material, much more resilient than your average gummie bear, perhaps closer to what you'd find inside a jelly bean. It's covered in tiny blue or pink (but never both) candy spheres, which adhere to the gummie disc quite well. It sounds odd, doesn't it? But what makes this one unique is that it contains no licorice whatsoever. That's right, it's a licorice allsort that contains zero licorice. That's just wrong. Obviously, this is a Bad component when it isn't even licorice.