Mention red licorice in any social setting, and you’re bound to come across the Red Vines vs. Twizzlers debate at some point. Everyone has their own favorite. If you’ve yet to pick a side in the battle, check out the hard facts below on what each option offers consumers.
If you’re staunchly behind one brand, you still might learn a few things about the candy companies and — who knows? — you might just find yourself leaning a little more toward the opposition.
The History of Red Vines and Twizzlers
In terms of simple age and experience, Red Vines has Twizzlers beat by several years. Red Vines debuted under a separate name — Classic Raspberry Vines — in 1920, getting the Red Vines name in 1952.
Twizzlers, meanwhile, didn’t appear on store shelves until 1929, a product of the National Licorice Company, later absorbed by Hershey Foods.
Despite this nine-year age difference, both options have made a significant mark on popular culture.
Twizzlers have popped up in news stories for decades. A rumor was spread that Neil Armstrong said, “I could go for some Twizzlers right now,” after landing on the moon for the first time (probably a false claim, but fun to think about). Twizzlers earned the Guinness World Record for the longest piece of licorice ever created (1,200 feet long, more than 100 pounds). At the 2016 American-Iran nuclear talks, the American diplomatic team reportedly consumed 10 pounds of strawberry Twizzlers.
The Red Vines brand popped up in cinema before cinema was even a widespread thing, when Red Vines (produced by the American Licorice Company) created a licorice prop for a Charlie Chaplin film. Since, Red Vines has continued to play a role in television, making recurring appearances on shows like Fringe and The Big Bang Theory.
So, while Red Vines might be more likely to appear on your TV screen, it seems Twizzlers are a bit more likely to take the spotlight on a world stage.
Sales and Distribution
In 2018, Twizzlers saw $214.9 million in sales, whereas Red Vines saw only $60.8 million. Additionally, Twizzlers sold $47.1 million in Twizzlers Pull ’N’ Peel products and $14.3 million in Twizzlers Nibs.
While you can purchase both brands all across the country (and much of the world, too), there is a geographic divide that’s noticeable in terms of Red Vines vs. Twizzlers consumption, with more Red Vines fans located in the West and more Twizzlers fans located in the East.
The Nitty-Gritty: Calories, Nutrition and Ingredients
If you’re looking at calories for the original Twizzlers and Red Vines flavors, then you won’t notice too much of a difference.
Red Vines are split into 1.5-ounce servings, with a serving being four sticks of licorice for a total of 140 calories.
A serving size of Twizzlers is also four sticks of licorice, for a total of 150 calories.
You can really notice a difference, though, when you look at the ingredients list for both products.
Red Vines are made from corn syrup, wheat flour, citric acid, artificial flavor and Red 40, according to the Red Vines website.
According to Hershey, Twizzlers contain significantly more ingredients, including corn syrup, enriched wheat flour, sugar, cornstarch, palm oil, salt, artificial flavor, citric acid, Red 40, mineral oil and lecithin.
In terms of nutrients, both options come up pretty much empty. You’re not going to be getting any dietary benefits from either of these snacks.
However, on the good side, you also won’t be filling your body with a huge amount of sugar or fat, either (compared to other candy options, like chocolate). Both are good as a diet-friendly snack on the sweeter side because of this — there’s little fat, sugar and calories.
Some would argue that the most important factor in the Red Vines vs. Twizzlers debate is taste.
Red Vines technically aren’t “raspberry” flavored anymore; the company switched to what it calls its “classic red” flavor. The result is something comparable to a nondescript, artificial berry taste.
Twizzlers, meanwhile, claims the snack has a strawberry flavor, but it can be debated how much a Twizzler actually tastes like a strawberry (not very much). Twizzlers are also a little sweeter than Red Vines.
One of the main complaints licorice consumers have when it comes to Red Vines? The product doesn’t have a great shelf life. If they’re not in an airtight container, they’ll go stale.
The main issue with Twizzlers, meanwhile, goes back to that ingredients list. There’s just more “stuff” there.
With Red Vines, you know the ingredients you’re consuming. The fewer preservatives mean that they go stale, faster, but that’s the price you pay. Many consumers also like that Red Vines come in a large jar, with each licorice stick ready for the taking, whereas Twizzlers’ tubs are filled with individually plastic-wrapped sticks (a both annoying and wasteful fact).
With Twizzlers, the popularity of the brand means they’re an easier snack to hunt down no matter where you are. Additionally, this popularity has led to a ton of different Twizzler varieties. While we’ve been discussing the original, red licorice variants for both Twizzlers and Red Vines, both brands have branched out into other flavors, colors and even sizes and shapes, but Twizzlers has really broken the mold, with some of the most inventive and interesting options you can think of.
Is a Winner in the Great Red Vines vs. Twizzlers Debate Possible?
Looking at all the above, is there a clear winner?
It’s difficult to say. Both sides offer something tasty, but both sides also have their drawbacks. Could it just be the case that there is no winner? Could one or the other be the best pick depending all on the person, situation and craving? It certainly seems that way.