During Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebrations, it’s common to see sugar skulls presented as offerings to the deceased. These colorfully-decorated candies are known as alfeñiques, and from the middle of October to the beginning of November, the city of Toluca, Mexico, showcases the biggest, most beautiful collection of alfeñiques around.
Vibrant stands take over the Portales, downtown Toluca’s pedestrian mall, showcasing ornate calaveras, the large, grinning skulls that symbolize the Day of the Dead, as well as little calaveritas. All bone-colored confections receive pops of color, thanks to icing, dyed sugar, and decorative beads, feathers, and foil.
Alfeñique, essentially just a sugar paste, is very malleable, allowing confectioners to craft all sorts of different shapes and scenes. If you’re not in the market for a big skull, there are plenty of sweet skeletons depicting varying professions, including priests, musicians, teachers, and, as a very meta touch, tiny alfeñiques vendors selling even tinier alfeñiques.
Need to Know
Toluca is about an hour or two from Mexico City. Take the bus from the latter's Observatorio station. When you get to Toluca, take a taxi to the Portales.
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