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What are Gumdrops?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 16, 2024
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Gumdrops are colorful, sugar-coated candies made from gelatin or pectin, which gives them their chewy texture. The two basic types are fruit flavored and spice flavored. Many people are used to seeing during the Christmas holidays, as they are commonly used to decorate gingerbread houses.

These bite-sized candies usually have a wider base that tapers into a cut-off cone shape at the top. Although they are brightly colored, gumdrops are usually coated in white sugar crystals, which gives them a more subdued color. The frosted look has made them a very popular Christmas candy. Although they're mainly used on gingerbread houses, some bakers chop them to decorate cookies. A few recipes call for chopped gumdrops to be added to cake batter; this adds a colorful look as long as the black colored ones are left out, as these can turn the batter gray.

The colors of gumdrops always correspond with their flavor, but the flavors vary by manufacturer. Fruit flavored candies taste much different than spice flavored ones. For example, red and green are the most popular Christmas colors, but a red fruit flavored gumdrop is likely to taste like cherry, while a red spice flavored one usually has a cinnamon flavor. Green gumdrops may be either lime or mint flavored.

Purple gumdrops are usually either grape or peppermint, while white could be licorice or clove. Black ones are always licorice. Orange gumdrops are orange flavored in the fruit type of gumdrop, but could be anise flavored in the spice type of gumdrop. Yellow are either lemon flavored or could taste like allspice.

Children tend to like the fruit flavored gumdrops, but often do not care for the spicy ones. Spice flavored candies are often sold as spice drops, and they can compliment the taste of gingerbread and other baked goods that include spices such as ginger, cinnamon and/or nutmeg added. Gumdrops also differ in texture, depending on what they are made of. Those made with gum arabic have a harder consistency than ones made with gelatin.

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