It's in the very first Harry Potter book that we find out that what wizards like to eat is a little bit more magical than Muggle food and that it is almost always served in abundance. A snack cart that is rolled through the Hogwart's Express introduces readers to Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans, Drooble's Best Blowing Gum, Chocolate Frogs, Pumpkin Pasties, Cauldron Cakes and Licorice Wands, among other goodies. And soon we learn that nothing seems to get rid of the Dementor blues quite like a hunk of chocolate.
Harry Potter Universe in Orlando has created its own Honeydukes Sweetshop, which sells many of the characters' favorite snacks. Ric Florell, General Manager and Senior Vice President of Resort Revenue Operations for Universal Orlando, says that "the goal was to be as authentic as possible."
On a recent trip, I decided to find out how good the treats actually tasted.
My first stop was the self-serve Every Flavor Beans bins. I have to say that the ratio of unpleasant jelly beans to pleasant ones was surprisingly high -- about 50 percent, making a large bag of these treats the perfect passive aggressive gift for your frenemies back home. For the faint of heart, there is the pre-packaged box, which comes with a guide, so you can identify which colors correspond with dirt, earthworm, vomit, bogies, earwax, grass, rotten egg, dirt and sausage as well as the more pleasant banana and tutti frutti. I tasted all of them and the folks at Universal really have managed to recreate the taste of vomit.
How can you get the nasty taste of earthworm out of your mouth? I would advise that you quickly pour a few Fizzing Whizbees on your tongue. The fizz from these sweets is an excellent palate cleanser. If fizz is not your thing, the lemon drops favored by Dumbledore are excellent, sweet and tart at the same time. Guests can also fill their goody bags up with Muggle favorites like those chocolate buttons and Jordan almonds. But be forewarned, Honeydukes is not like Dylan's Candy Bar and you will get a very dirty look from the cheery staff if you sample too many of the peppermints.
After filling about two bags with treats, I headed over to the glass enclosed case, which houses treacle fudge, rock cakes and cauldron cakes. I don't know what's in those cauldron cakes, (and the recipe is obviously confidential), but they are the best version of a molten chocolate cake I have ever had. I sliced a few up for dessert that night and had to fight my kids for the last few bites. And since everyone needs to supplement a trip to the sweetshop with some fruit, I picked up an oversized caramel apple, which I can also recommend.
The best souvenir from Honeydukes has to be one of those rather large chocolate frogs. This hunk of milk-chocolate weighs over five ounces and comes with its own trading card. I packed one and forgot about it and then opened it up about a month later and it had all of its magic intact.
On your way out of Harry Potter World, a trip to Honeydukes is a must -- it is definitely not a good idea to visit before you get on the rides. It might sound odd to say that the candy sold in a store based on a book is authentic, but the goods sold here do taste like the real thing.