The cheesesteak, the soft pretzel…and the Irish potato? Yes, Irish potato candies are a Philadelphia tradition going back over 100 years. While there are no actual potatoes in the Philadelphia version of this confection, they get their name because they are made to look like miniature potatoes. Typically the candies have a coconut butter cream inside and a cinnamon coating. Although the candies were most likely created as a commemoration of the Irish Potato Famine that lasted from 1845-1851, they are now widely associated with St. Patrick’s Day as a celebratory seasonal treat.
With St. Patrick’s Day this weekend, Irish potatoes are popping up in many grocery stores in Philadelphia and neighboring counties. Chances are, the name on these packages will be Oh Ryan’s. Oh Ryan’s Irish Potatoes is a family-run company based in Boothwyn, Pennsylvania. Making Irish potatoes since 1989, Oh Ryan’s has grown to be the largest producer of Irish potatoes today. While 90% of their sales have been in the Philadelphia area, they have also shipped them across the country from Massachusetts to Florida, to California and as far away as Alaska.
The familiar boxes of Irish potatoes found in your grocery store have been shrink-wrapped for freshness and have a guaranteed shelf life of six months. But if you’re in the Bensalem, PA area and you really want to know your candies are fresh, visit Warner’s Candies on Bristol Pike. In business for over 55 years, Warner’s Candies is a Bensalem tradition known for their delicious candy. During the St. Patrick’s Day season, you’ll find old fashioned homemade Irish potatoes among their tasty offerings.
For the absolute freshest Irish potato candies you could have this St. Patrick’s Day, make them yourself! Here’s an easy kid-friendly recipe that would make a great addition to your St. Patrick’s Day festivities.
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- 4 oz. cream cheese
- 2-1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 14-oz. bag of sweetened coconut
- Approximately 2 tablespoons cinnamon
In a large bowl, cream the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla, beating until combined. Mix in the coconut.
With a small cookie scoop, measure out balls of the mixture. Roll gently in your hands to smooth and place on a cookie tray covered in parchment paper. Lightly cover the tray and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Candies will be easier to roll when cold and just slightly dried this way.
On a small plate, sprinkle cinnamon. To avoid overly coating the candies, sprinkle about a teaspoon of cinnamon onto the plate at a time. Roll coconut cream balls in the cinnamon, lightly coating. Add more cinnamon to the plate as necessary. Store Irish potato candies in the refrigerator until ready to eat.
Tip: For a festive presentation that also makes them easier for your friends and family to pick up, place your Irish potatoes in mini muffin liners. You can find St. Patrick’s Day liners such as these at craft stores such as A.C. Moore on Street Road in Bensalem.
Whether you make them yourself or leave it to the experts, treat yourself to Irish potatoes this St. Patrick’s Day!
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