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The origins of typical spanish Christmas candy

Gastronomy tips

The origins of typical spanish Christmas candy

Turrón, marzipan, polvorones… We all have a favorite typical candy that we love to eat at Christmas time. Would you like to know the origins of each of them? In our blog we go through the different theories.


In the case of this typical Christmas candy, the truth is that nobody has agreed on where and when it was created. On the one hand, we know that before taking part in the Olympic Games, Greek athletes consumed a food that gave them energy containing these ingredients: honey, almonds and other nuts. However, we cannot guarantee that it was exactly like the turrón we know today.

The most widespread version states that turrón comes from the Arabian Peninsula. According to this theory, the Arabs brought this dessert to the Mediterranean coast and it later became very popular in the province of Alicante in Spain. Then in the year 1585 we can find a document that stated: "in every home in Jijona it smelled like honey".

Even so, there is still one last theory that states that turrón was invented in the siege of Barcelona during the reign of Felipe IV. The city was going through a time of shortage and famine, and to resolve this situation the authorities organized a contest to find a food that would last a long time. A confectioner named Turrons won the prize for his wafers made with almonds and honey.

Polvorones and Mantecados

A woman named Filomena Micaela Ruiz, "La Colchona", born in Estepa in 1821, invented the recipe for the polvorones and mantecados that we know and love. Although according to earlier documents, they were already being made in the sixteenth century in a convent in Estepa, but it was not until Filomena decided to sell them that they took on the current texture and finish.

In the nineteenth century, Filomena Micaela Ruiz wanted to sell her mantecados in the different towns where her husband worked as a driver, but she had a problem: they soon spoiled. To avoid this, she came up with the idea of drying them so they would keep for longer and still be fresh when they reached their destination. Her idea triumphed and she achieved a large client base in the different towns of Andalusia.

Years later, everyone started making polvorones and mantecados in the same way and the first factories were opened in Estepa.


Although it is quite possible that ancient Christians, Arabs and Greeks already consumed a dessert similar to marzipan, to this day its origin is disputed between two regions: Sicilia and Toledo.

According to the Toledo version, the marzipan we know was invented in the Convent of San Clemente during a famine suffered in Castile after the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa (1212). At that time there were no wheat stores but there were sugar and almonds.

For the good of the community, it was decided to feed the population with a paste that mixed these two foods.

This product was called marzapán (marzipan) by joining the words: maza (mace) and pan (bread). The first referred to the mortar where the almonds were crushed and mixed with the sugar and, the second was the product that was obtained, "almond bread".

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