Please allow me to introduce what may be the worst Christmas candy of all time. I give you the Twizzlers Pull-n-Peel Holiday Edition.
First, notice the bright, festive, red, green, and white swirl. Yes, very fitting. But now notice the flavors listed on the bag: cherry, green apple, and lemonade. Well, isn't that... Christmassy. I mean, I don't expect Twizzlers to flavor their licorice with mint or nutmeg or something, but getting excited about green apple and lemonade as Christmas flavors is asking too much. (Although, having conjured this horror, now I'm going to take a moment to ponder the concept of Twizzlers actually making mint or nutmeg flavors. Dear God.)
For those who don't know, Pull-n-Peel Twizzlers are a stepchild product that actually may have overtaken the original in popularity. Individual strands of Twizzler putty, roughly the size of buccatini noodles, are twisted together into logs, if you will, which are then packaged together. What I hold in my hand above are three of these logs (which are firmly stuck together). Each log can, in theory, be pulled apart into its component strands. Since the strands are twisted together, pulling on any one of these rubbery strings essentially shreds the log, providing the satisfying tactile experience of ripping something apart, sticky string by sticky string. Somewhere deep inside, your destructive inner toddler rejoices. Just like string cheese, this is more a toy than a food.
Note, however, that I described this joyful deconstruction in theory. I say that because in reality, it only works with fresh Twizzlers. YES, I do realize that describing an industrial food that is essentially made of plastic as "fresh" is somewhat of an oxymoron. But as any habitual eater of Twizzlers can tell you, there is a world of difference between pliable, rubbery-soft, fresh Twizzlers and hard, desperate, dental-filling-wrenching stale ones. (I don't know at what point in time the former morphs into the latter.)
These Pull-n-Peels, however, simply did not work. They were stuck together like their very molecular structure depended upon it. Any attempt to wrench free any of the strands resulted only in a tiny lump of clay left in your fingertips, the result of whatever force you had applied to that immediate lump.
One benefit of the Pull-n-Peel structure is the ability for Twizzlers to blend multiple flavors together, as they do here. To the extent that I was able to separate (at least pieces of) the strands, I determined that in fact, the flavors were distinct, and they did align with the colors: the red strand was the cherry flavor, the green strand was sour apple, and the white strand was lemonade.
This was an important discovery, because in the end, only the white "lemonade" strand was even remotely edible. It was slightly sour, mostly sweet, and tasted of lemons. In contrast to the cloying red and green, it even seemed refreshing. The red "cherry" and green "green apple" flavors were, in short, horrifying.
Let us accept, for the sake of argument, that the Platonic ideal of "cherry" and "green apple," in this context, are represented by the Jolly Rancher versions of themselves. Using that as our standard, our True North, I submit to you that the red and green strands of these Pull-n-Peels were instead akin to jamming a can of Play*Doh into your mouth (the red and green cans respectively, of course). I was specifically reminded of Plastocene, a hard semi-plastic modelling compound we used in my elementary school art classes. While my jaws frantically worked through the tacky plastic bite, the overwhelming flavor of modeling compound finally gave way to notes of cough syrup (in the case of the red), and Lysol (in the case of the green).
Merry Christmas, everyone.