Is Irish candy better than American candy? Let me reword that question. I should ask is American candy better than Irish sweets, since sweets is what we call candy in Ireland.
As I rummaged through my kids' candy pile after they finished trick or treating one Halloween night, in search of I don't know what, I dreamed of Irish trick or treat bags filled with my favorite Irish sweets.
Dreams of Irish Sweets
Don't get me wrong. I do eat American candy. In fact, I eat way too much, but my sweet tooth developed many years ago in a different land and culture.
And so my Halloween dreams don't revolve around Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, candy corn, and Peppermint Patties.
Instead I long for Cadbury's Dairy Milk Chocolate, Maltesers, Yorkies and so many more candy bars found in England and Ireland.
As children I think we all had our favorites. Mine was, and still is, a Peppermint Aero, a milk chocolate bar with a light and bubbly minty center.
An American's Guide To Irish Candy
My search for something to satisfy my Halloween cravings got me thinking about American tourists. One look at a candy stand in Ireland must be mind boggling.
When traveling, you never know when the need for a little chocolate pick-me-up might strike. I therefore believe it is my solemn duty to provide a small guide to candy picking when roaming the British Isles.
The very first lesson revolves around the term 'candy' itself. It is seldom used. Instead the term 'sweets' is preferred in Ireland, referring to everything from hard candy to jellies to chocolate bars.
Hershey's chocolate, Dove or even Cadbury's chocolate bought in America is not as creamy as Cadbury's chocolate in Ireland.
The Irish variety lacks the cocoa taste of American bars. I think the one you prefer is directly related to how your taste buds were cultivated as a child.
In Ireland you'll find milk chocolate is used far more than dark chocolate for candy bars.
Luckily, I have come up with different treats that bare the same name and, for the most part, taste relatively the same. Here they are:
M & M's
The main difference on the eastern side of the Atlantic is the chocolate covering. Once again, the Irish varieties are a little creamier than the American varieties.
Now if you are a peanut butter addict, you may have some real problems feeding your craving in Ireland. It's not a popular ingredient in the Emerald Isle.
As a result I could not think of anything remotely similar to the following American candy:
Reese's Peanut Butter Cup
But never fear! All is not lost!
Here is my equivalency grid, based on my taste buds. All suggestions are welcome. I am quite familiar with candy, but lucky I am no American expert. There is nothing scientific about this comparison - only the chart, makes it look far more official than it actually is.
Closest Irish Equivalent
|Milky Way||Mars||Layers of nougat and caramel covered in chocolate – the Irish-English version is a little sweeter.|
|3 Musketeers||Milky Way||Whipped nougat covered in chocolate.|
|100 Grand||Catch||Made with chocolate, crisped rice and caramel.|
|Take 5||Lion Bar||The Lion Bar is missing the peanut butter layer of a Take 5.|
|Almond Joy||Bounty||Bounty's coconut center is a little moister and it lacks the signature Almond on the chocolate shell. Bounty bars come in dark chocolate and milk chocolate varieties.|
|Whoppers||Maltesers||Chocolate covered malt, honeycomb spheres. A Malteser's center is a little lighter and crispier than that of a whopper.|
|M & M's||Smarties||M & M's are now available in Ireland. When I was young a Smartie was the nearest equivalent.|
|Smarties||Refreshers or Fruit Fizzers||The Irish version is a little fizzier and fruitier than an American Smartie.|
|Milk Duds||Toffee Treets||Milk Duds are a little harder to chew.|
|DOTS||Wine Gums||The only comparison is that both are jellies, but their flavors differ vastly.|
And here is my list of Irish/English candy bars for which I can find no American counterpart.
Vintage or Retro Irish Sweets
I haven't even mentioned vintage candies from days gone by in this post. So let's take a quick look at some varieties of what I called penny sweets, when I was growing up in Dublin.
Fizzle sticks looked like sticks of chalk, and came in many colors. They had a fruity, fizzy flavor and seemed to melt in the mouth. Back in the 1970's they only cost a penny - perfect for purchasing on the way home from school.
Peggy's legs were another retro favorite. They were deliciously sweet caramel flavor sticks of rock candy. Oh the memories!
Boiled sweets were sold by weight. They were stored in large plastic containers and displayed in most newsagents. You could choose from acid drops, sour apples, apple drops, bulls eyes, and rhubarb and custards. Liquorice all sorts were also sold by weight.
And don't forget about those sticks of rock we bought at the seaside.
Irish Potato Candy in America
I remember one Saint Patrick's Day being asked by an American friend if I make Irish potato candy. She was so surprised when I confessed I never heard of these American treats.
These sweet and tender cinnamon flavored bites are made in oblong potato shapes.
This candy looks very like a truffle, those delicious round candies with a sweet and creamy center. The main difference is that potato candies do not have any chocolate.
They're usually made with butter, cream cheese, sweetened shredded coconut, and powdered sugar or confectioner's sugar. The outside is a coating of powdered cinnamon. The creaminess of the center lessens the impact of the spices on the palate.
These confections originated among Irish immigrants in Philadelphia sometime in the late 19th or early 20th century. No sweets or candies in Ireland ever resembled them. Rumor has it that they were created using a German recipe.
A Big Decision
Last night I finally settled on eating a few packets of Whoppers, as I dreamed of my Malteser days.
O.K. I confess! It was a little more than just a few. But in my defense they were mini fun-size packets!
My motto today is:
"Move away from the whoppers!"
I better heed my own warning, before my backside turns into a whopper.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom
P.S. Please feel free to add to this candy dictionary in the comment section below, or just let us know about your favorite candy or sweets on either side of the Atlantic.
- How The Irish Celebrate Saint Paddy's Day
- Christmas Pantomimes - An Irish Cultural Tradition
- A Dip In The Forty Foot - A Dublin Christmas Tradition
- Irish You Were Here - Monthly Update From Anne Driscoll
- A Candle In The Window - An Irish Christmas Tradition
- Taphophiles and Graveyard Seats - Guest Post by Mattie Lennon
- Old Irish Ways Heritage Museum
- Pop Up Pub - An Innovative Business Idea From Ireland