Surprising facts you never knew about Red Vines

Are you actually even watching a movie if you're not nibbling on Red Vines, those sweet braided strands of red licorice that have long been our cinema sidekicks? So ingrained is licorice into our candy culture that most of us probably never gave much thought to how we ended up avid gnashers of a treat that looks a little bit like it could be part of a rubber toy.

"The Red Vines tray is considered by many to be a necessary companion to the movies ... whether you're watching from your couch or a movie theater," noted Clint Christensen, product manager at American Licorice Co., which produces this candy and other licorice products. But the company, which began producing candy in 1914, didn't actually start selling Red Vines until the late 1950s. In an interview with Mashed, Christensen shared some surprising facts about this and other American Licorice Co. products.

American Licorice Co. has a colorful history

Although their most iconic product is the classic Red Vines, American Licorice Co. started things out in basic black. "The company's first product was Black Licorice Twists," Christensen explained. "American Licorice Co. introduced a variety of black licorice products until the late 1950s. These include Snaps in the 1930s and the Lic-Ris-Ets – the only item made during World War II" by the brand, he added. While they hadn't yet debuted the bright red movie time treat, that doesn't mean you wouldn't find American Licorice Co. at the movies ... or, in one case, in the movies. "American Licorice Co. made a boot out of licorice for the 1925 movie Gold Rush, so Charlie Chaplin could eat his own boot on film," Christensen said.

Once American Licorice Co. went to technicolor, though, they went all out. "In 1963, new Red Vines Ropes candy and Licorice Ropes became the longest pieces of licorice to ever hit the market," Christensen noted. "The 34-inch long licorice ropes were then individually wrapped, and Super Ropes candy was born. The next decade introduced flavored licorice – grape-flavored Purple Vines, peppermint Green Vines, and Chocolate Vines."

So what's next for Red Vines? According to Christensen, cleaning up the ingredients has been a key company priority; the brand recently introduced a non-GMO line called Red Vines Made Simple, which is "made with only five simple ingredients, with real sugar and with colors and flavors from natural sources," he explained.