1. Deep Fried Mars Bar
What it is: Exactly what it sounds like, this is a Mars Bar fried in chip shop batter.
Hungry History: The deep-fried Mars Bar's origins go back more than 25 years to 1992. Two Stonehaven teenagers went to the Haven Fish Bar (now the Carron Fish Bar) for their lunch. John Davie and Brian McDonald were always daring each other to try disgusting things. John asked what he could have deep-fried. He was told: ‘You’re in a fish and chip shop – you can deep-fry anything.’
Since he hated chocolate, he thought that the most revolting thing he could force his friend to eat would be a deep-fried Mars Bar. It then became a popular snack among local schoolchildren until three years later an Aberdeen paper picked up the story and the national newspapers soon followed suit. It has since become available in chip shops across the country.
If you are interested in the deep fried mars bar, take our self-guided tour of Stonehaven: Robert Burns, the BBC and Mars Bars.
2. Tunnocks Teacake
What it is: A soft marshmallowy filling on a biscuit, wrapped in milk chocolate.
Hungry History: Tunnocks Bakery was established by Thomas Tunnocks in 1890. His dad was an undertaker and joiner in Uddingston, South Lanarkshire. On the road into Uddingston John Tunnock had an advertisement, saying “Why live a miserable life when for 30 bob you can be buried comfortably”. Perhaps it isn’t surprising his son chose to go into baking cakes, rather than burying bodies.
By the 1950s it was Thomas’s son Archie running the business. Archie decided he needed to come up with a product which didn’t go stale as quickly as a cake. The caramel wafer was born. But it was Archie’s 23-year-old son Boyd who invented the now legendary Tunnock’s teacake, using Italian meringue for inspiration.
Where you can get it in Aberdeen: Any supermarket will stock these.
What it is: Often described as Scotland’s other national drink, Irn Bru is a sweet, fizzy, orange-coloured soft drink.
Hungry History: The Barr family had run a cork cutting business when in 1875 they started making these new-fangled soft drinks. These proved such a success that they soon stopped their cork business and focused entirely on manufacturing fizzy drinks.
Iron Brew was invented in 1901. It changed its name to Irn-Bru in 1946, when it was believed that changes in the law would mean that it could be now longer sold as iron Brew since it was not actually brewed. Like the other brewed drinks produced by Barr’s, it contained 1.1% of alcohol. Although the Irn-Bru recipe is apparently a secret known only to three people in the world, we do know that even nowadays it contains a small amount of alcohol – although the amount is considered so tiny that practising Muslims are allowed to drink Irn-Bru.
One part of the name is accurate – it technically does have iron in it, with 0.002 per cent ammonium ferric citrate, which contains iron hydroxide, among the ingredients
Where you can get it in Aberdeen: Available everywhere, from vending machines to corner shops.
What it is: It’s a bit like fudge, only not as soft and far more sugary.
Hungry History: We know tablet has been around since at least the seventeenth century, thanks to Lady Grizel Baillie’s extensive household books and accounts in which “taiblet for the bairns” is mentioned. Unlike modern day tablet, this was made with sugar and cream, rather than butter, condensed milk and sugar. It may well have been intended as medical cure hence the strange name.
Adam Balic has theorized that current tablet recipes have been greatly influenced by ‘Russian toffee’ which was sold in Glasgow in the late nineteenth century by A T Assafrey, a confectioner originally from Estonia who also established Scotland’s first chocolate factory.
Where you can get it in Aberdeen: Tablet isn’t manufactured on a large scale so you’ll have to get it somewhere homebakes and the like are sold. Try the traditional bakers.
What it is: A dense, sweet biscuit.
Hungry History: The oldest food on our list, shortbread dates back to at least the twelfth century. Leftover dough from breadmaking would be dried out in the oven to make a hard dry biscuit, similar to a rusk. (Fun fact the word “biscuit” comes from the Latin “bis cotus”, meaning twice baked.) Mary Queen of Scots was a big fan of shortbread, particularly with carraway seeds, and some people say that the modern recipe is thanks to her.
Over time the yeast in the bread was replaced by butter and became a luxury food, mainly reserved for special occasions like Hogmanay and weddings – in Shetland they would break a shortbread cake over the head of the bride on the threshold in her new home.
Where you can get it in Aberdeen: Every tourist attraction is practically obligated by law to stock a tartan tin of shortbread. If you want to save your money, you will be able to find shortbread at any supermarket.
Which of these have you tried? Did you like them? What are your favourite Scottish sweet treats? Leave me a comment below.