The FDA is mum on the side effects of certain preservatives and food colorings, but when it comes to Good & Plenty, they’re not messing around: It turns out that a toxin found in black licorice could kill you. Or, more likely: Increase your risk of hypertension, heart swelling and lethargy, and at worst, congestive heart failure.
Apparently, the problem is glycyrrhizin—a chemical compound found in licorice root that tastes sweet and may trigger a drop in potassium levels. In small amounts, Wikipedia tells me that licorice can be beneficial for health, but if you overdose, the above health risks start to kick in.
So just how many licorice-flavored Jujubes are we talking? A lot. The FDA says two ounces of black licorice a day for two weeks could put you in the hospital with a heart arrhythmia. Which would be a really unfortunate side effect of your Halloween candy binging (and further supports my theory that it’s better to just eat a bunch of the bad stuff now, on Halloween, and keep it away for the rest of the year). If you have high blood pressure, heart or kidney disease, then you’re at higher risk of experiencing a severe reaction to licorice, so it’s best to limit your consumption or avoid it altogether, they say.
But the FDA hasn’t explained how it is that all Scandinavians haven’t dropped dead yet.