Salty liquorice or salmiak (salmiakki in Finnish) is a variety of liquorice (confectionery) that contains a relatively large amount of ammonium chloride (NH4Cl, "salmiac") in addition to the liquorice root extract, sugar, and starch or gum arabic that constitute normal liquorice. Salty liquorice is somewhat of an acquired taste and is not generally appreciated outside of Scandinavia, Northern Germany and the Netherlands and Poulsbo, Washington.
Ammonium chloride has a spicy taste that vaguely resembles that of sodium chloride (table salt). However, salty liquorice does not contain any sodium chloride. Although some types of regular liquorice can also contain a small amount of ammonium chloride, salty liquorice can contain up to about 8 percent of ammonium chloride. Haribo Super piratos are in this upper range, We carry both the German Super pirato and the Danish. Surprizingly the German version is has a tad bit more salmiak added. Moreover, the salty taste is typically less masked by a high sugar content compared to regular liquorice.
Salty liquorice candies are almost always black or very dark brown and can range from very soft to very hard and may be brittle. The other colours used are white and variants of grey. Carbon black is used as a food colouring agent in these candies.
In Finland Salmiakki was once a trade name of Fazer, but quickly became a genericized trademark not unlike nylon. The canonical shape for Finnish salmiakki candies is a black diamond-shaped lozenge. This shape is so popular that in Finnish, the word "salmiakki" can sometimes refer to this shape, instead of the candy. I love it when the Finnish kids come into the store singing 'salmiakki, salmiakki, I love salmiakki'.
In addition to being used in candy, salmiak is also used to flavour vodka, distilled rye brandy, ice cream, cola drinks, and recently, meat ("Salmiakkipossu" is a brand of salmiak-flavoured pork, probably named as a pun on "Salmiakkikossu", meaning salmiak-flavoured Koskenkorva). Salmiak is also a popular ingredient for home-made dip sauces for potato chips.