About a decade ago, a few years before I moved to the West Coast, I was in Los Angeles for a long weekend and ended up seeing a movie at a theater in Hollywood. On the hunt for something to chew to keep me awake—we were seeing Prohibition drama Lawless; snooze alert!—I got to the concession stand only to discover that they didn’t sell Twizzlers, my theater snack of choice. They did, however, have Red Vines. My brother-in-law bought a pack, and I gave them a shot. They were (and continue to be) … not for me.
But I’m not here to beat a dead horse with a licorice whip and break down whether Twizzlers are better than Red Vines or vice versa. See, Red Vines are big in California. They’re even made in California, as the package advertises. It totally makes sense for an L.A. movie theater to carry them. What doesn’t make sense? Carrying them instead of Twizzlers when the two candies are totally different.
For decades, the two snacks have been pitted against one another in some misguided East Coast-West Coast snack-food war (Twizzlers are made by Pennsylvania-based Hershey). There’s even a Parks and Recreation episode that brings Ben’s self-proclaimed “Twizzler family” face to face with Leslie, daughter of a proud “Red Vines family.” For what it’s worth, the brands promise they aren’t perpetuating the feud. In an interview with SF Gate in 2021, Red Vines brand manager Clint Christensen said, “The rivalry is [similar to] the Montagues and Capulets. It’s existed for so long that people forget how it started [but] it’s not driven by either company.” A man after my own heart, Christensen also noted that the “taste and the texture” of the two candies are “very different.” Nailed it, Red Vines corporate flack man.
Yes, they’re both red, twisty, and approximately eight inches long, but the similarities end there. Let’s take a look at the specs:
Red Vines are tubular. Not, like, “Totally tubular, man,” but hollow with a round hole so you can use one as a straw (which people apparently do). Twizzlers are flat on the bottom and have a barely-there tunnel running down the middle. (That said, I can say from experience that the inadequate circumference of the signature Twizzler hole hasn’t kept kids from attempting to use them as straws in their movie theater sodas.)
This one’s tricky since I think both treats can be accurately described as “waxy,” but Red Vines are toothsome and soft, while Twizzlers have a slick, almost plasticky consistency. And god forbid you don’t seal the package properly; Twizzlers go from candy to wire insulation in no time flat. Red Vines seem to have an easier time maintaining their chewy but disturbingly melty texture. Take a bite of one. Take a bite of the other. Nothing alike.
Twizzlers are strawberry flavored. You know what strawberry flavored things taste like. Red Vines, however, are “Original Red” flavored. It’s not strawberry. Nor is it cherry like a lot of “red” flavored things. It’s a take on red licorice that I can best describe as “old piece of gum stuck underneath a middle school desk.” Even if you disagree with that take, you have to agree that strawberry and Original Red are very different flavors.
Different flavors. Distinct experiences. Disparate candies. Yet the feud rages on. And when movie theaters carry one over the other (props to AMC for carrying both), they’re perpetuating a false equivalence that harms fans from both camps—not to mention the people who truly like both. Life will be sweeter when we end this thing once and for all.