This week’s question comes from Stacy T. in Kansas City, Missouri. She writes:
Who actually likes licorice? I mean, I only eat it when I’m at grandma’s because it’s either that or cookies that are hard as the Devil’s nipples, but clearly somebody’s buying it. So who’s actually buying it and why?
A great question, Stacy. One that we here at The Colomen have often pondered ourselves in times of struggle.
This problem can effectively be reduced to the following: Why was licorice produced in the first place, and why does it continue to be produced? For the answer, we must look no further than the corn industry.
Economist Martin Sanborn says that “the corn industry may well be the single most important industry in the United States.” Roughly 15 trillion bushels were produced in 2016 alone. Compare that to the 5,500 hospitals currently registered in the United States. How many bushels is that?
Because licorice is effectively corn syrup and flour, the corn industry has a clear interest in increasing consumption. Food analyst and model train enthusiast Miguel Sisneros, says that “corn is basically in everything.” When prompted about licorice specifically, he added “Oh sure, it’s in licorice too.”
Thomas Rockwell, a professor at the University of Michigan Law School, points out that “the corn lobby may well account for 12 to 15 percent of all decisions made on Capitol Hill.” He adds that, “as a result, any product containing corn can legally be considered accountable for these decisions at the Capitol.”
So it’s clear that licorice is important politically, but why would anybody want to buy it?
Numerous studies have been performed on the taste of licorice. The general consensus: it’s shit. “We find that in roughly 90 percent of the samples, there’s either too much sweetener or not enough,” concludes researcher Tanya Davies. “Only one in seven surveys finds a shred of evidence that the general public doesn’t hate licorice,” adds her colleague and work-flirt Jim Atkins.
So then the question remains, why do people keep buying it?
Shockingly, separate reports from the Minnesota Kentucky Departments of Commerce found that sales of “licorice and licorice-adjacent products” varied exactly in parallel with airings of Democratic campaign advertisements, without exception.
When informed of this trend, Rockwell conceded that “all the evidence points to licorice being a liberal ploy to keep the American public soft and docile.”
Ask your own Brent here.