Mexican candy cravings in Tucson

A variety of decorations on sale at the Dulceria. A bag of assorted candy costs around $2.50. (Photo by: Marielle Carrera/ Arizona Sonora News Service).

Tucson is home to not only popular American snacks but also candies that have crossed over from the Mexican border. Being in such a close proximity to the border, there are many Americans of Hispanic descent who miss their basic candy from Mexico.

Dulceria Funland’s neon multicolored sign, on W. Irvington Road, can be seen from the street and easily attracts attention.
The candy store originally started as a party rental store but soon expanded with its success. They sell a wide variety of candies such as Paleta, marshmallow lollipops covered in chocolate, Pelon Pelo Rico, tamarind-flavored candy, and various pinatas filled with assortments of smaller candies.

One of the more popular candies sold. It is a tamarind-flavored candy. (Photo by: Marielle Carrera/ Arizona Sonora News Service).

“The most popular candies sold here are Duvalin,” strawberry, hazelnut and vanilla milk cream candy, “and Pulparindo,” candy made from the pulp of a tamarind fruit, says Julessa Garica, a worker at the Dulceria. “They take people back to their childhoods and remind them of being in Mexico.” she says.

Many Tucson locals are raving about Mexican candies from their childhoods. “I grew up in South Texas, along the border.  So we would just make a weekly trip into Reynosa Tamps. We would buy leche quemada and dulce de camote. Just the mere mention of those delicious treats makes my mouth water,” says Lupita Murillo, a reporter for KVOA Channel 4 News. Leche quemada is a burnt milk candy and dulce de camote are candied sweet potatoes.

The owners Manuel and Bethany Alvarez hard at work. They opened the candy store in 2014. (Photo by: Dulceria Funland).

The owners of the Dulceria, Manuel and Bethany Alvarez, have been running their party company since 2010 and opened the candy shop in 2014. “We bring the flavors of Mexico to Tucson for everyone to enjoy,” says Mr. Alvarez, “being of Hispanic descent I always miss authentic Mexican flavors.”

I” love the Pelon Pelo Ricos for sure,” says Chris Briones, a UA student from El Paso, “or Pica Fresca,” strawberry gummies covered in chili powder, “they’re so good,” he says.

Overall, students and locals who grew up along the border can all agree that they miss some form of Mexican candy. They say it connects them to a piece of their childhood and makes them miss home. “El Paso will always be home to me and now that I go to school in Tucson I feel like I can still get all the Mexican candies I crave from my childhood,” says Caroline Najar, a UA student.

Marielle Carrera is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News, a service from the School of Journalism with the University of Arizona. Contact her at mariellecarrera@email.arizona.edu.

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