If you’re from the South Jersey/Philadelphia region, then you know Irish potato candy is a MUST for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Despite its name, Irish Potatoes are not from Ireland and (most) do not actually contain potato.
So, what are they?
The candies have a coconut cream inside and are rolled in cinnamon, which gives them the appearance of being very small potatoes. They are generally made from some blend of coconut, confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, cream, or cream cheese.
Where did they come from?
Though there is no documented evidence of their origin, Irish potato candies were likely created by Irish immigrants on the East Coast more than a century ago. Before the Great Famine of Ireland (1845-1852), America’s Irish population was fairly low. However, during and after the tragedy, the South Jersey and Philadelphia region’s Irish population boomed. It is said that somewhere during this time the Irish potato candy emerged in our region. These candies became linked to the celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day and its Irish roots, and a tradition was born.
Locals may not realize that these sweet treats are very little known throughout the rest of the country. Oh Ryan’s Irish potatoes, based across the bridge in Marcus Hook, PA, claims to be the largest distributor of Irish Potatoes, shipping about 80,000 pounds to major chains and smaller candy stores. Guess what? A whopping 95% of their candy is actually sold to residents right here in our region: Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.
Where to find Irish Potatoes in South Jersey?
Aunt Charlotte’s Candies, Merchantville, NJ
JB Bakery, Burlington, NJ
Duffy’s Fine Chocolates, Gloucester City & Haddonfield, NJ
Reily’s Candy, Medford, NJ
Duffield’s Farm, Sewell
Select Walmart stores
Select Wegmans grocery stores
Select BJ’s Wholesale Club
Select ACME markets
Select ShopRite grocery stores