MY OUTLOOK: Cherie Gorden, Licorice Lady
What is the licorice festival?
We have licorice from all over the world. There is no charge to come and have a taste—we sell all the varieties that are sampled. We also serve complimentary licorice coffee, licorice tea, aniseed cookies, homemade licorice and licorice ice cream.
How did the licorice festival get started?
We always carried a few types of licorice from the beginning, then one day I read a quirky calendar that named April 12 as National Licorice Day. I mentioned this to my husband Ric and he thought it would be fun to do something special to celebrate the day. So, in honor of National Licorice Day, we declared a festival!
How long have you been holding the festival?
This will be our ninth year and this year it will take place April 8-12.
Tell us about the typical licorice enthusiast…
People love the event and we have well over 1000 people each year coming from as far away as central Texas and Kansas. The comment we get most often is a huge “thank you for doing this so we can get the licorice we love.” Licorice lovers are a breed unto themselves and are always on a quest to find the best.
What are your favorite moments from past festivals?
The best memories are the looks on the faces of the people who are here for the first time and see all the licorice and are free to taste whatever they wish. One man comes every year for his birthday present from his wife.
Where did your love of licorice originally come from?
To be honest, my husband Ric is the true licorice fanatic. When we travel, the first thing we do is find a little candy store and try the licorice there.
Does Ric have a favorite kind of licorice?
I believe his favorite is Kookaburra from Australia, which is also our best selling kind.
You stock quite a selection. How many flavors of licorice do you have?
We have around 50 varieties during the event and everything is out and available for sampling. Our most popular licorices are the Kookaburra and Finnska from Finland. These are both sweet, soft chewing licorices with strong licorice taste. We carry a variety of salty licorice as well.
Has the festival ever converted anyone into a licorice lover?
Many people think they do not like licorice but, once they taste the real thing, they often discover that they do. Problem is that most of the licorice in the stores is not flavorful and has a tough texture and this is all many people have tried. Although most companies make other flavors of “licorice,” real licorice is always black. We call the flavored kind “unlicorice” and we carry many of those as well for those who simply cannot take the licorice taste.
Tell us about your shop, Aunt Gertrude’s House.
Ric and I opened Aunt Gertrude’s House in 1997 in the beautiful DeSteiguer building downtown Historic Guthrie. It features a wide variety of gifts and accessories and a gallery, celebrating American craft and fine art including jewelry, glass, wood, paintings, pottery, collage and sculpture. A lot of these artists are Oklahomans. We are always delighted to have people come to visit and shop. We also carry Marich chocolates and we give samples of all our candy every day.
Visit auntgertrudeshouse.com for more information on the festival and store.