The United States would like to think it dominates the global snack game, what with its Dunkaroos, Oreos, and Doritos, but that’s just an overly inflated ego or, more kindly, a lack of experience with snacks from around the world talking. Earlier this week, we sang the praises of snacks from Mexico and China. Now, I’m here to open your eyes to the vast and delicious world of Turkish snacks.
Consider Çokonat. A simple chocolate-covered wafer filled with hazelnut cream, this sweet and crunchy Turkish snack is a reminder of all the summers I spent with my family in Ankara and Istanbul. Luckily, I don’t have to go all the way to Turkey to enjoy the snacks made by the likes of Ülker and Eti. Whenever I visit my mom in Long Island, we stop by the local Turkish mart on our way home from the train station (basically a tradition at this point). While she does actual shopping, I hurry to the snacks because I’m almost 30 and still useless. Standing there, I’m greeted by the most glorious array of chocolates, cookies, cakes, and more. Here are 20 Turkish snacks I think are worth trying.
Ülker Çikolatalı Gofret
This chocolate wafer is my childhood favorite. My grandmother used to slip me extra money whenever she sent me to run errands at the grocery store so I could get the 10-pack. One is never enough.
If Ülker’s chocolate wafer leveled up, it would transform into Çokonat. Filled with crisp wafers, hazelnut cream (and bonus: hazelnuts), and covered in semi-sweet chocolate, this candy bar is truly unique to Turkey. I have yet to find a dupe.
Albeni and Dido
These two are the Twix and Kit Kat of Turkey, respectively. And like most countries with their own version of American candy, these are better.
Do you find yourself eating an Almond Joy and think, “I wish there wasn’t a whole fucking almond in the middle of my Joy”? Enter: Coco Star.
Maybe this is a bit of an over exaggeration but for me, eating a Milky Way is like chewing on leather. I blame the chocolate shell and caramel, which are both too thick. That’s why I prefer Metro. The caramel on top of the nougat is not so dense — it’s also not Cadbury runny. No, Metro is simply two layers of perfection covered in a thin and delightful chocolate shell.
Ülker’s milk chocolate bars are classic. But if you want to indulge in something even more Turkish, spring for the milk chocolate bars with pistachios or hazelnuts. In my opinion, these two nuts pair better with chocolate than almonds.
The perfect harmony of marshmallow sandwiched between two biscuits and covered in chocolate, Halley is to Turkey as Lotte Choco Pie is to South Korea.
This is a Turkish gas station staple. I bought three packs on our drive from Akçakoca to Ankara. The perfect crispy, salty snack for any road trip.
Ülker’s tea biscuits are a must-have pantry item in any Turkish household. They’re great with çay (tea) obviously, but I also enjoy eating a few with milk or soda, specifically Uludağ Gazoz, the Turkish fruit-flavored soft drink. They’re not particularly sweet, with a light vanilla aroma, and go well with Uludağ.
Think two tea biscuits with a layer of cocoa cream inside. Çokoprens is a decadent yet simple treat ideal best paired with coffee or enjoyed simply on its own.
Haylayf and Çizi
If you’re looking for a tea biscuit with more variety, consider Haylayf or Çizi. Haylayf is a sweet cookie sprinkled with sugar and Çizi is a crispy cheese-flavored cracker. Both are welcome at tea time.
This one’s my favorite of Ülker’s line of cookies: a chocolate-filled hazelnut cookie. I buy a whole pack before I board my flight from Istanbul to New York.
Cin Orange Jelly Biscuits
Eti’s iconic cookie is basically a distant cousin of the British jaffa cake. Instead of a soft sponge topped with orange jam and finished with chocolate you have a cookie, orange jelly, and chocolate sprinkles.
If there’s one thing Eti’s good at, it’s putting things on cookies and finishing them off with sprinkles. In this case, that thing is a marshmallow ball. I’m more partial to a Puf with rainbow sprinkles, but the one with chocolate sprinkles is pretty popular.
A sweet and moist fun-sized cake filled with chocolate cream (or my favorite: banana cream) and topped with another layer of chocolate. What more could you want?
These cracker sticks come in a variety of flavors, from “extra cheese” to “extra herbs,” and, in my opinion, pair best with çay. In fact, whenever I take the ferry in Istanbul, I get a bag of extra herbs Crax and çay from the cafe on board and have myself a small feast on the upper deck. If I’m feeling generous, I’ll chuck a few at the seagulls circling nearby.
Eti’s toasted wheat sticks are the superior sticks. Layered with roasted sesame seeds for an added savory flavor, these crunchy crackers on the go remind me of a simit.
Tadım Sunflower Seeds
Turkish people love — and I cannot stress this enough — sunflower seeds. They eat them with çay, wash ‘em down with Rakı, or, like my mom, snack on a whole bowl while watching their soaps. Let me put it this way: If you don’t have a bag of Tadım sunflower seeds, are you even Turkish?