Modern Irish Culture: Snack Foods
Missed Part 1? Check it out here!
In America, we’re solidly in snacking season. You know exactly what we mean: between Halloween’s treats, Thanksgiving’s feast, and December’s month-long excuse to eat just one more cookie, there’s no time of the year more inundated with snacks than the end of it! Tonight we’re not here to discuss the bog standard American snacks, but rather, introduce you to some of the delicious indulgences you’d be able to find if you happened across the pond to Ireland…
Okay, so you can’t currently get these in Ireland (or anywhere!) as they’ve been discontinued, but the number of articles we found demanding ice cream manufacturer HB bring them back led to them being included on this list. These very sweet, green apple and lime-flavored popsicles (aka “ice pops” in Ireland) are a favorite childhood memory for many and have even spawned a fan page on Facebook. Every year, the Irish clamor all over social media for a return of their precious frogs, and every year HB responds: “We cannot confirm.” Don’t worry—Irish love for this product is so strong, we’ve got a recipe so you can make them at home!
These marshmallow, coconut, raspberry jam delights with a biscuit base are associated with children’s birthday parties in Ireland. While there’s also a French biscuit with the same name (though a very different composition—more like Pocky sticks!), these biscuits apparently date back to 1888 and remain a favorite to this day (though many are a little unnerved by the bubbly pink appearance.) Sold by some brands under the name “Jam Mallow,” these sweet treats have a softer base than most Irish biscuits, making them more of a cookie!
This one seems to be as controversial as licorice is in the U.S.—you either love it or hate it (and the older you get, the more you seem to love it?) These boiled sweets are an Irish tradition and are always red and white, flavored heavily with clove (probably why they’re not always a fave!) With their origins in the 1800s, these sweets are more strongly associated with grandparents (think butterscotch candies, but spicier) with boiled sweets generally having fallen out of flavor. Still—you can find them at many a corner shop, with families like the Linehans of Shandon Sweets in Cork using the same recipe since the 1920s!
Not just popular in Ireland, but also one of the UK’s favorite sweet treats, Jaffa Cakes were originally invented in Scotland by Robert McVitie in 1875! McVitie’s is still the top producer of these snacks, an orange-flavored sponge smothered with orange-flavored jelly and covered in chocolate. There’s a long-standing controversy over whether Jaffa cakes are a biscuit or a cake, a designation they originally claimed to avoid luxury taxes levied on biscuits (whereas “cakes” were considered a staple and not taxed as heavily--this matter literally went to court.) Though they are biscuit-sized, the base hardens when stale versus getting softer—which we’re pretty sure does make it a cake. But why…Jaffa? Apparently, they’re named after the particular variety of orange originally used to flavor the treat—Jaffa oranges from Israel!
Lastly, you’ll need something to wash this all down! Club Orange is a carbonated orange drink (well, 11% juice,) and was actually the first orange juice product ever sold commercially in Ireland! Dating back to the 1930s, this drink was invented when the Kildare Street Gentleman’s Club commissioned C&C to create an orange-flavored drink (also where it gets its name!) Known for its real fruit “bits” (what we Americans like to call pulp,) this remains one of the most popular soft drinks in Ireland with 66% of the market share of citrus sodas. You’ll know it by its slogan” “The best bits in the world.”
Interested in trying some of these Irish treats out? Thanks to the internet, you can! Besides the obvious (we all know Amazon has everything these days,) there are numerous Irish snacking sites to choose from. Happy eating!
This post is part of a series. Read our last modern Ireland post, with contemporary Irish fiction recommendations, here. Check out the blog every Monday and Thursday for more posts about Irish history, dance culture, community news, and spotlights on our dancers, staff, and families—among other fun projects! And don’t forget to dance along with us on both Facebook and Instagram.
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