Hidden Gems

Houston's Homegrown Mexican Candies Mix Spicy and Sweet

Seek out the goods from these local candy purveyors, who infuse their snacks with the tongue-tantalizing flavors of their Mexican heritage.

By Geneva Diaz Published in the Summer 2022 issue of Houstonia Magazine

With tempting options like juicy chamoy paste, spice-covered gushers, and chingona nuts, these small businesses are winning over legions of loyal fans.

Image: Amy Kinkead

To find the best Mexican candy in Houston, most people turn to their local corner store, but there are plenty of small Houston businesses making Mexican candy that are also worth supporting. With tempting options like juicy chamoy paste, spice-covered gushers, and chingona nuts, these small businesses are winning over legions of loyal fans through their creative, spice-filled goods. See below for a list of three upstart local Mexican candy makers who are changing the game in Houston. 

Pica Queen LLC

It started with a pregnancy craving for mangonadas. Hazel Molina, the owner of Pica Queen LLC, began making her chamoy from scratch eight years ago when she discovered that she was allergic to red food dye. During the pandemic, both Molina and her husband lost their jobs and decided to sell candy at farmers’ markets to provide for their family.

Their specially curated spice is made from naturally sourced hibiscus and peppers that she gets from the same farmers’ markets and is 100 percent natural, with no artificial flavors or added food dyes.

Stimulate every taste bud on your tongue with Molina’s juicy chamoy paste, which comes in several different flavors: watermelon, pineapple, lime, mango, and original. Or choose from a variety of dulces enchilados, such as gummy worms, gummy bears, sour watermelon patches, gushers, cherry bombs, and more.

Pica Queen also sells the dry spice mix in small and large sizes for $6 and $11, and the chamoy paste in a dipping container for $10 or a squeeze bottle for $6 and $11. You can find Pica Queen at many weekend farmers’ markets around the city, sometimes selling their famous agua fresca beverage called the Pica Sunrise, which has pineapple and hibiscus.

 

Image: Amy Kinkead

Tijuas Candies

Tijuas Candies believe in the one flavor Hispanic culture loves the most: spice! The company noticed a niche to fill within the Mexican candy industry back in 2020, and they decided to kick the spice up a notch in order to fill it. After a few trials and errors—including one in which the candy was so spicy, you had to stop for a glass of water after five pieces—they perfected their recipe. Although the dulces enchilados may still make your nose run, the flavor is well-balanced while giving you that spicy kick you’re looking for. 

The spice-covered gushers are the most famous hit, but the peach rings are the silent winner. Prices for a container of candy and nut mix start at $7, and if you eat them too quickly, you can buy a subscription box for $34.99.

 

Chingona Picosita Candies

Houston native and founder Natalie Garza had no plans to work for someone else. At 22 years old, she started her own candy business, known today as Chingona Picosita Candies. Translated as “badass spicy candies,” the company took off in March 2020 after Garza spiced up a backyard beer for her mother and realized she was on to something.

Once the word got around in her family’s circle that she was making traditional candies, Garza started to get more creative. One of her staple items is the Pickle Roll—a giant pickle wrapped in a fruit roll-up covered in her unique spice. Other popular items include chingona nuts (Japanese peanuts), tamarindo rim pastes for drinks and fruit, and the special spicy sauce in an 8-ounce bottle for $10. 

All snacks are sold by the ounce and start at $4, except for the gushers, which are $8 for 6 ounces. Garza sees Chingona Picosita Candies, an award winner from Pica Fest in 2021, as just the beginning.

 

 

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