A trip to the seaside isn’t complete without a big nugget of Yellowman to chew on and to munch the whole way home in the car.
It’s the very essence is summer: its bright yellow hue brings out the sun, even in the rain, and it’s as shiny as the smile it leaves on your face.
NI Food Love Stories has been finding out about this traditional treat that is similar to honeycomb but shouldn’t be mistaken for its cousin sweet, being brighter yellow in colour and made from just three ingredients.
It’s been enjoyed for hundreds of years and has been made famous by Auld Lamma’s Fairs across Ireland – most famously in Northern Ireland at the Ballycastle event, where it’s served up in paper cone cups, hewn off big blocks.
It’s made its way into the traditional Irish rhyme: “Did you treat your Mary Ann to some dulse and Yellowman at the old Lammas Fair at Ballycastle, O?” and keeps kids travelling in cars on summer daytrips quiet for hours.
Down the years it has also been served at Halloween, sometimes even drizzled in chocolate – but whether naked or dipped, it’s quite irresistible to young and old sweet teeth alike.
Some recipes add vinegar and bicarbonate of soda but at Aunt Sandra’s Sweet Shop in east Belfast they make it the traditional way, with only sugar, glucose and water.
Jim Moore from Aunt Sandra’s explained: “Yellowman is a traditional Irish sweet and we’ve been making it the traditional way since the 1950s, without any machinery whatsoever.
“It’s really just a boiled sweet made with sugar, glucose and water and because we are an ‘old tyme’ sweetshop we make it the traditional way, boiling it in a big pot and doing it all by hand, stretching, then hanging on hooks.
“It gets its striking yellow colour from a tiny bit of food colouring but what makes it really bright is the process of stretching it. The friction caused in the stretching is what makes it even brighter,” he explained.
“The Hairy Bikers came to visit us and we showed them how to make it,” he added, referring to TV chefs, David Myers and Simon King, collectively known under their hirsute motorcyclists’ moniker.
“Yellowman is known for its association with the Auld Lamma’s Fair in Ballycastle and we make all its Yellowman. Every piece of Yellowman consumed there is made right here in Aunt Sandra’s,” he added.