How Candy Stretches Around the World

March 14, 2017

Lately, I've found that there are few activities as enchanting as watching candy being pulled. I’m mesmerized by the way it’s kneaded and elongated.

Last week, video-making collective Great Big Story ran a pretty mesmerizing segment about a South Korean man who’s dedicated his life to making yeot. It's a confection made of white rice, ginger, bellflower seasoning, and moistened barley seeds. Upon completion, it takes on the consistency of taffy. The process of making yeot is laborious and rewarding; the subject of this particular video belongs to a family who's been making yeot for four decades, and this tradition was passed on through the men in his family.

It’s a lovely video, and it sent me tunneling down a candy-pulling rabbit hole. So many countries and cuisines across the world have their own variant of what Americans may know as taffy. Let’s begin with what may be the most obvious—taffy-pulling in the United States:

Pretty, no? In Turkey, there’s macun, an Ottoman-era sweet made from toffee paste stretched to oblivion and served as street food. It often comes in a rainbow motley of colors, corresponding to various flavors, from bergamot to rose, mint to plum.

In Japan, there’s amezaiku, an art that stretches back to the 8th century and involves taking softened, heated candy and creating delicate sculptures from it:

My favorite, though, might be chaku in Nepal. I'd describe its taste and texture as being similar to molasses: it's brown and sweet, derived from ghee and milk and topped with coconut shavings or dates. Look at this dude go! He treats it like a sport.

It’s an objectively disgusting day in New York, site of a blizzard named Stella. I’m watching these videos to get me through the day; honestly, it’s hard to stop.

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What mesmerizing food videos are you ogling at while you're cooped up (or, ahem, bored at work)? Let us know in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Whiteantlers
  • Panfusine
  • Mayukh Sen
    Mayukh Sen
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.


Whiteantlers March 14, 2017
Most of my ogling of food blogs and videos is done early morning, before work. I loved this article because it reinforces the signature on my personal e-mails ('Peace through food and music'). I had no idea that taffy was so universal. This took me back to my summers as a kid at my aunt and uncle's summer house in Cape May, back in the early 60s. As small and provincial as Cape May was back then, there was a candy shop that made salt water taffy and had the taffy puller in the store window. My sister, cousin and I would stand there, rapt, watching the goo stretch into something we'd gobble up later that evening. Good memories. Thanks for another delightful article that led me back to more innocent times. : )
Mayukh S. March 14, 2017
!! :) I'm glad I brought that memory back, Whiteantlers.
Panfusine March 14, 2017
The iconic soan papdi (buddi ke baal / old woman's hair), the confection is pulled literally to the thickness of cotton wool
Mayukh S. March 14, 2017
Panfusine! I am so embarrassed I didn't know this about soan papdi. It gives kaju katli a good run for its money when it comes to my favorite mishti/sweet...and by it, I mean the Haldiram's brand soan papdi. Heh.
Panfusine March 14, 2017
The technique for the Halidiram (packed version )is a bit different, more like storing and whipping the molten sugar, gheeand flour mix till it forms the strands.
Panfusine March 14, 2017
Stirring vigorously, not 'storing '