Seeking the finishing touch for your Dia de Los Muertos altar? How about bizarre Mexican candy to give out on Halloween? Abbarotera Central, in Corona, Queens, the Mexican equivalent of Restaurant Depot, has a wide array of both.
Choose from the many macabre bride and groom figurines, confectionery caskets, and miniature place settings that line a table in front of the register at this wholesale market on 97th Place just off 43rd Avenue. (It’s a short walk from the 103 Street-Corona Plaza stop on the 7 train.) Don’t sweat not having a wholesale tax ID number. And don’t sweat the price either–each item costs $3.
That red string looks like a fuse, but it’s not. Pull it, and the lid to the casket opens to reveal a sugar skull and a hidden message. This one translates to: “I would like to be a little fish and change colors so that I can give you a little hug, my love of loves.” A sweet sentiment if ever there was one.
I copped a box of a dozen Zumba Pica Cuchara Mix candies for $4. The name means “stinging bee spoon mix.” The plastic spoon contains a thick goop that’s half tamarind and half watermelon flavored. Like many Mexican candies, it’s sweet-sour, and slightly spicy. The texture lies somewhere between taffy and the stuff the dentist puts in your mouth to make impressions. If you don’t want to risk having any kids pull their teeth out on this stuff, there are plenty of other treats to choose from in Abbarotera’s aisles of candies and snacks.
One of my favorites is Pepecuate, Japanese Style Peanuts. The goobers are encased in a sweet, crunchy shell that has a hint of soy sauce. A case of 50 bags will set you back $12. Looking for something really weird to shock the little ghoulies and ghosties? Get a pound of chapulines ($6), crunchy nutty-tasting dried Mexican grasshoppers.
While you’re there, peruse Abbarotera Central’s other offerings: cases of hot sauce, ginormous containers of hominy corn, all manner of fresh and dried Mexican chilies, tortillas, tostadas, cheeses, and meats, as well as tamale pots and other cooking equipment. It’s got everything you need to open a Mexican restaurant, plus the funniest-named hair product ever: Moco de Gorila, a/k/a Snott Gorila Gel.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 23, 2009