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The Sweet History of Turkish Delights

Most people only recognise and associate Turkish delights from the movie, The Chronicles of Narnia. However, Turkish delights have a rich history, and it is more than just a sweet treat. In fact, did you know that it is one of the oldest sweets in the world? There are several stories about the history of Turkish delights, also known as Lokum. Lokum derives from the Arabic word ‘rahat ul-hulküm’ which means ‘comforting to the throat’. 

The most eminent story goes, an Ottoman Sultan summoned his confectionary chef and ordered him to create a sweet treat that was light on the throat and his tooth. Through this, Turkish delight was born. He then used it to impress women and to restore peace throughout the palace. Surprisingly, it worked as arguments in the palace stopped and the Sultan always insisted on a plate of Turkish Delights along with their daily feasts.  

Nevertheless, the history indicates that it was Haci Bekir Effendi who first developed Turkish delights as we know today. In 1777, Haci Bekir Effendi migrated to Istanbul and opened his own confectionery shop where he sold Turkish delights for more than two centuries. His business became a success and has grown significantly – it is the oldest company in Turkey and one of the 100 oldest companies in the world. The original confectionary store is now being managed by the fifth and sixth generations of his descendants. 

The Chronicles of Narnia 

As mentioned, Turkish delights were featured in Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, when The White Witch asked Edmund if he would like anything to eat. He asked for Turkish delights which were his favourite treat.  

“It is dull, Son of Adam, to drink without eating,” said the Queen. “What would you like best to eat?” 

“Turkish Delight, please, your Majesty,” said Edmund.” 

This scene stole the hearts of many Europeans as there was a huge increase in sales of Turkish delights across Europe. The sweet is not only enticing but also very satisfying as only a small piece can fill the hunger for a sweet craving. 

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