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The Most Popular Candies in 20 Countries

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No matter where you are in the world, a good candy bar usually isn’t hard to find. The treats you’d come across abroad may not resemble what’s in your local corner store, but that doesn’t make them any less delectable. Here are the most popular candies people choose to indulge their sweet tooth with in 20 countries around the globe.


Compared to the rest of the world, Thailand’s chocolate consumption is relatively low. When they do indulge, however, they choose to break into a Kit Kat. The chocolate bar is the best-selling candy product in the nation (unless you count cough drops, in which case it would be Halls).



In 2014, Cadbury sold nearly $527 million worth of its beloved Dairy Milk bars. Cadbury Dairy Milk is distinct from other candy that’s popular on the continent in that its flavor profile is “milkier” than how most Europeans prefer their milk chocolate [PDF].



Ülker, which is owned by the same company as Godiva, brands themselves as “the most popular chocolate in Turkey.” The candy brand earns approximately half of the country’s total chocolate and biscuit sales each year. Ülker sells many different chocolate varieties, including bars filled with wafers, caramel, and pistachios.



In China, this American-headquartered candy brand reigns supreme. Dove makes up an impressive 34 percent of the nation’s total chocolate consumption. To put that into perspective, China was projected to consume a whopping 220,700 tons of chocolate last year alone.



Milka chocolate bars originated in Berlin in 1901 [PDF], but they didn’t become Germany’s most popular candy until the 1960s. Today they gross more than $730 million a year, beating out the country’s runner-up Lindt by more than $230 million. The candy can be recognized by its mauve wrapper depicting a cow against snow-covered mountains, the same image that’s been used since the brand was first trademarked.



This chocolate line has been a leader in the Brazilian candy market for the past 100 years. A few Lacta brand offerings include their aerated “Bubbly” bar and a white chocolate treat with Oreo pieces. 



The best-selling candy product in Poland is this fluffy treat from Cadbury [PDF]. Ptasie Mleczko consists of a light, meringue center with a chocolate glaze coating the outside. The name translates to “Bird's Milk,” a regional phrase derived from a Slavic fairytale. In the story, a princess tests her suitors by asking them to fetch her bird’s milk, something she believes will be impossible to find. It’s for that reason that the idiom is now used to describe something that’s considered precious and rare. In the case of the candy, it has the secondary significance of referring to two of the primary ingredients: eggs and milk.



Ghana brand chocolates are named for the West African country their cacao beans are sourced from. The treat’s creamy texture has made it a sweet favorite in parts of Asia—especially in South Korea, where the chocolate company leads the country’s candy market.


While Cadbury is normally associated with its origins in the UK, the candy company’s India branch has been up and running since 1948. From 2010 to 2015, India was the world’s fastest growing chocolate market in value sales. The Cadbury Dairy Milk brand alone accounts for nearly 41 percent of the marketshare of India’s chocolate category.



Denmark is one of the few countries that prefers gummies over chocolate. The Haribo candy company is most famous for their gummy bears, but they also produce licorice, gummy worms, and a range of other sugary treats. Danes are some of the most voracious candy consumers on earth, with each citizen eating an average of 18 pounds of candy per year (that’s twice as much as the average European). One University of Southern Denmark anthropologist attributes this behavior to the local tradition of hygge (translated to “coziness”) that’s practiced during the long, cold winter months. In Denmark, this often includes indulging in snacks and candy with loved ones.



While Meiji is the best-selling chocolate brand in the country, Kit Kat bars earn the distinction of being Japan’s most popular single chocolate treat. Most Americans are familiar with the snappy confection, but their Japanese counterparts are something else all together. A few of the more than 80 Kit Kat flavors sold in Japan include strawberry cheesecake, purple sweet potato, and wasabi.


Strauss Group

Elite brand chocolate dominates the Israeli candy market. The company was founded in the region by a Jewish-Russian immigrant in 1934, and the candy has been a childhood staple there ever since. One of the brand’s most popular product is Pesek-zman, which is like a Kit Kat bar with hazelnut cream inside. The candy bar is so popular that it even has its own ice cream spin-off.



In this former British colony, Cadbury Dairy Milk also nabs the title of most popular chocolate. South Africans' favorite variety is the Cadbury Lunch Bar, approximately 300,000 of which are sold per day. Other popular choices amongst locals include Dairy Milk Wholenut and Dairy Milk Top Deck.



One of Poland’s most popular exports, this chocolate-covered wafer bar is the most beloved candy amongst Icelanders. When heavy import restrictions were in effect in Iceland a few decades ago, Prince Polo was the only foreign candy available in the country. During his visit to Poland in 1999, former Iceland Prime Minister Olafur Ragnar Grimsson said an entire generation of Icelanders were raised on the candy bar. Today it’s estimated that over a pound of the confection is consumed per Iceland resident each year.



In Saudi Arabia, Dove Chocolate is branded as the exceedingly popular Galaxy candy bars (this is also the name they’re given in the UK). The two products are practically identical, right down to their design style. The brand expanded its presence in Saudi Arabia in 2014 when they opened a $60 million chocolate factory there. In addition to the traditional chocolate bars, Galaxy plans to introduce new flavors to the region like “Cookie Crumble.”


Alpen Gold

The favorite candy brand amongst Russians is this popular line of chocolate bars. They come available in milk, dark, and white chocolate varieties and can include hazelnuts, coffee beans, liqueur, and other decadent additions



Though the company was founded in Italy, Ambrosoli candies have found remarkable popularity in Chile. Today the brand manufactures a diverse variety of chocolates, caramels, and fruit candies in the South American country.



Chocolate is popular around the world, and of course Belgium is no exception. As of 2012, Côte d’Or was selling more than 600 million chocolates to Belgians per year [PDF]. The chocolate bar comes in several varieties, some of which include marzipan, praline, or cranberry fillings.



In addition to being beloved both at home and overseas, Kit Kat bars are also a favorite of our neighbors to the north. Canada is one of over 100 countries where Kit Kats are sold. According to Nestlé, they’re so popular that 700 Kit Kat fingers are reportedly consumed every second.

20. U.S. // M&Ms 

The U.S. is the largest chocolate market in the world, and a big portion of the chocolate we buy comes in a colored candy coating. M&Ms are the best-selling candy in America, boasting annual sales of $673.2 million. And if you were rooting for Reese’s to take the top spot, don’t be discouraged—Hershey’s peanut butter cups come in at a close second.

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Alison Marras, Unsplash
Brine Time: The Science Behind Salting Your Thanksgiving Turkey
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Alison Marras, Unsplash

At many Thanksgiving tables, the annual roast turkey is just a vehicle for buttery mash and creamy gravy. But for those who prefer their bird be a main course that can stand on its own without accoutrements, brining is an essential prep step—despite the fact that they have to find enough room in their fridges to immerse a 20-pound animal in gallons of salt water for days on end. To legions of brining believers, the resulting moist bird is worth the trouble.

How, exactly, does a salty soak yield juicy meat? And what about all the claims from a contingency of dry brine enthusiasts: Will merely rubbing your bird with salt give better results than a wet plunge? For a look at the science behind each process, we tracked down a couple of experts.

First, it's helpful to know why a cooked turkey might turn out dry to begin with. As David Yanisko, a culinary arts professor at the State University of New York at Cobleskill, tells Mental Floss, "Meat is basically made of bundles of muscle fibers wrapped in more muscle fibers. As they cook, they squeeze together and force moisture out," as if you were wringing a wet sock. Hence the incredibly simple equation: less moisture means more dryness. And since the converse is also true, this is where brining comes in.

Your basic brine consists of salt dissolved in water. How much salt doesn't much matter for the moistening process; its quantity only makes your meat and drippings more or less salty. When you immerse your turkey in brine—Ryan Cox, an animal science professor at the University of Minnesota, quaintly calls it a "pickling cover"—you start a process called diffusion. In diffusion, salt moves from the place of its highest concentration to the place where it's less concentrated: from the brine into the turkey.

Salt is an ionic compound; that is, its sodium molecules have a positive charge and its chloride molecules have a negative charge, but they stick together anyway. As the brine penetrates the bird, those salt molecules meet both positively and negatively charged protein molecules in the meat, causing the meat proteins to scatter. Their rearrangement "makes more space between the muscle fibers," Cox tells Mental Floss. "That gives us a broader, more open sponge for water to move into."

The salt also dissolves some of the proteins, which, according to the book Cook's Science by the editors of Cook's Illustrated, creates "a gel that can hold onto even more water." Juiciness, here we come!

There's a catch, though. Brined turkey may be moist, but it can also taste bland—infusing it with salt water is still introducing, well, water, which is a serious flavor diluter. This is where we cue the dry briners. They claim that using salt without water both adds moisture and enhances flavor: win-win.

Turkey being prepared to cook.

In dry brining, you rub the surface of the turkey with salt and let it sit in a cold place for a few days. Some salt penetrates the meat as it sits—with both dry and wet brining, Cox says this happens at a rate of about 1 inch per week. But in this process, the salt is effective mostly because of osmosis, and that magic occurs in the oven.

"As the turkey cooks, the [contracting] proteins force the liquid out—what would normally be your pan drippings," Yanisko says. The liquid mixes with the salt, both get absorbed or reabsorbed into the turkey and, just as with wet brining, the salt disperses the proteins to make more room for the liquid. Only, this time the liquid is meat juices instead of water. Moistness and flavor ensue.

Still, Yanisko admits that he personally sticks with wet brining—"It’s tradition!" His recommended ratio of 1-1/2 cups of kosher salt (which has no added iodine to gunk up the taste) to 1 gallon of water gives off pan drippings too salty for gravy, though, so he makes that separately. Cox also prefers wet brining, but he supplements it with the advanced, expert's addition of injecting some of the solution right into the turkey for what he calls "good dispersal." He likes to use 1-1/2 percent of salt per weight of the bird (the ratio of salt to water doesn't matter), which he says won't overpower the delicate turkey flavor.

Both pros also say tossing some sugar into your brine can help balance flavors—but don't bother with other spices. "Salt and sugar are water soluble," Cox says. "Things like pepper are fat soluble so they won't dissolve in water," meaning their taste will be lost.

But no matter which bird or what method you choose, make sure you don't roast past an internal temperature of 165˚F. Because no brine can save an overcooked turkey.

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Big Questions
Why Don't We Eat Turkey Tails?
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Turkey sandwiches. Turkey soup. Roasted turkey. This year, Americans will consume roughly 245 million birds, with 46 million being prepared and presented on Thanksgiving. What we don’t eat will be repurposed into leftovers.

But there’s one part of the turkey that virtually no family will have on their table: the tail.

Despite our country’s obsession with fattening, dissecting, and searing turkeys, we almost inevitably pass up the fat-infused rear portion. According to Michael Carolan, professor of sociology and associate dean for research at the College for Liberal Arts at Colorado State University, that may have something to do with how Americans have traditionally perceived turkeys. Consumption was rare prior to World War II. When the birds were readily available, there was no demand for the tail because it had never been offered in the first place.

"Tails did and do not fit into what has become our culinary fascination with white meat," Carolan tells Mental Floss. "But also from a marketing [and] processor standpoint, if the consumer was just going to throw the tail away, or will not miss it if it was omitted, [suppliers] saw an opportunity to make additional money."

Indeed, the fact that Americans didn't have a taste for tail didn't prevent the poultry industry from moving on. Tails were being routed to Pacific Island consumers in the 1950s. Rich in protein and fat—a turkey tail is really a gland that produces oil used for grooming—suppliers were able to make use of the unwanted portion. And once consumers were exposed to it, they couldn't get enough.

“By 2007,” according to Carolan, “the average Samoan was consuming more than 44 pounds of turkey tails every year.” Perhaps not coincidentally, Samoans also have alarmingly high obesity rates of 75 percent. In an effort to stave off contributing factors, importing tails to the Islands was banned from 2007 until 2013, when it was argued that doing so violated World Trade Organization rules.

With tradition going hand-in-hand with commerce, poultry suppliers don’t really have a reason to try and change domestic consumer appetites for the tails. In preparing his research into the missing treat, Carolan says he had to search high and low before finally finding a source of tails at a Whole Foods that was about to discard them. "[You] can't expect the food to be accepted if people can't even find the piece!"

Unless the meat industry mounts a major campaign to shift American tastes, Thanksgiving will once again be filled with turkeys missing one of their juicier body parts.

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