A unique Italian candy
As a child, my favorite part of going to the coffee shop in the morning with my family was when we had to approach the cashier to pay. After patiently waiting for the adults to finish their cappuccinos, I would finally get my chance to pick a pack of candies from the counter by the cash register. While I normally chose one of the types of candies that were well-known and popular with kids my age, one morning I was intrigued my some small pastel colored boxes. At that point I might not have known what it meant for something to be vintage, but I definitely felt there was something unique about those candies with their retro packaging. When I finally had my first Pastiglia Leone candy what surprised me the most was their consistency: an almost chalky texture that soon dissolved into a smooth sweetness.
The history of Leone candies
Pastiglia Leone has a history as old as the Italian Republic itself. In 1857, Antonio Leone founded a small artisanal candy factory in the northern Italian town of Alba. Antonio Leone’s products were so delicious that they soon became a favorite of the King. To better serve the royal family Leone’s production moved to Turin, residence of the Italian monarchs and the country’s chocolate and candy-making capital. As soon as the Leone store opened in the city, it became known for high quality sweets. The factory took the name of the best-selling candies it produced, Pastiglie Leone, and entered Italian history as one of the oldest Italian candy factories.
Varieties of Pastiglie Leone
Pastiglie Leone come in a vast array of flavors, divided into three categories: refreshing [dissetanti], digestive, and mixed [miste]. Some of the flavors, such as violet, licorice and anise, are a pleasant reminder of the hard the hard candies your grandma used to keep in her purse, while other flavors, such as green tea, absinthe and the spicy Merchant of Venice, are undoubtedly unique and exotic.
Pastiglie Leone are as well known for their packaging as for their smooth taste. Each flavor comes in a pastel-hued box that matches the color of the candies inside and is printed with art deco graphics. Unwrap the boxes and inside you will find that each contains an identical yellow and gold package that displays the vintage Leone logo and address of the original factory in Corso Regina Margherita 242. Today, vintage Leone boxes and tins are highly collectible. Now that I’m no longer a kid, I don’t have to wait patiently to get to the candy counter in order to admire the Leone boxes because I’ve collected some vintage ones at home.