My Kids Loved Narnia but Were Unimpressed by Turkish Delight

American kids today would have little idea how Britain’s wartime rationing may have prepared Edmund to sell out for Turkish Delight.

imageTurkish Delight, or lokum, is a popular dessert sweet throughout Europe, especially in Greece, the Balkans, and of course Turkey. But most Americans, if they have any association with the treat at all, know it only as the food for which Edmund Pevensie sells out his family in the classic children’s fantasy novel The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. […] The English name, Turkish Delight, is no misnomer. Turks make and consume lots of lokum, and it’s a popular gift, a sign of hospitality. The candy was invented in the early 19th century, reportedly by confectioner Bekir Effendi–though this claim comes from the company Hacı Bekir, still a premiere manufacturer of lokum, which was founded by Bekir and named after him. (He changed his name to Hacı Bekir after completing the hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca.) According to the Hacı Bekir website, Sultan Mahmud II was so pleased by the new sweet that he named Bekir chief confectioner.
But outside of countries where Turkish Delight is a ubiquitous treat, many people first encounter it via The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, the first installment of C.S. Lewis’ beloved Narnia books (or via the 1988 TV miniseries, or the 2005 movie). In the book, Edmund is tempted by Turkish Delight into an alliance with the White Witch, who has brought eternal winter to Narnia. When Edmund first meets the witch, she asks him “what would you like best to eat?” He doesn’t even hesitate. —Atlas Obscura

4 thoughts on “My Kids Loved Narnia but Were Unimpressed by Turkish Delight

  1. Ah, but there’s the mass-produced Turkish Delight (which, in Ireland, comes in a beautifully coloured purple wrapper, but tastes like a stodgy brick), and then there’s Turkish Delight handmade by actual Turks, which to me tasted like little spicy clouds of wonder.

  2. Same here. I was in my early 40’s when I found it in a grocert store that catered to a Central Asian clientele.

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