I had a friend visiting from the States, and when we were visiting Galata Tower people were walking around with the ‘lollipop’. Determined to find the source, after circling the tower we found a street vendor and I finally was able to try the traditional Ottoman Turkish candy – macun! (Up until this point, I had only seen it sold in Eyüp).
Osmanlı Macuncu, is a traditional Turkish taffy like candy dating back to the Ottoman Empire. Mesmerized by the colors, with my obsession of all things rainbow, I never realized the colors meant different flavors. Here, white is banana, orange is orange, yellow is lemon, red is cherry and green is lime. Select your desired flavors, and he’ll begin to spin each flavor around a wooden stick. When finished swirling, lemon is drizzled on top (maybe to harden the candy). But beware, it’s a very sticky texture and I advise to keep hair tied back when eating.
Did You Know?
Originally macun was medicinal. When Hafsa Sultan, the mother of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent became ill while visiting Mesir, an edible paste called mesir macunu was invented of 41 herbs and spices mixed with grape molasses and cured her disease. The Sultan immediately ordered the paste to be shared with the public.
Today, every year for the past 500+ years, the Mesir Macunu Festival occurs each March in Manisa, Turkey marking the beginning of Spring. The paste is prepared according to the traditional recipe and practice, where it is then wrapped in small pieces of paper and blessed by imams before sharing. It’s believed receiving one of these pieces will grant your wish of marriage, work or children within a year. In 2012, the Mesir Macunu Festival was designated by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.