The Scots have always been great inventors, their very own John Logie Baird came up with the television we know and love today, while good old Alexander Bell was one of Alba’s own too – who is credited with inventing the telephone. These practical, modern devices however have nothing on their culinary imagination: Scotland has undoubtedly gifted us with the weirdest and most wonderful combinations of foodstuffs the world has ever seen.
Sure, there’s haggis (made from all sorts of guts, literally, and gore), there’s Irn Bru which famously stains so irrevocably that even the strongest chemicals won’t remove it from your sofa, and of course there’s the tottie scone, a genius use for leftover mashed potato which is particularly good when toasted and spread thickly with butter. Whatever the merits of the aforementioned foodstuffs, nothing comes close to the battered Mar bar, when it comes to Scotland’s genius. And don’t they just inspire a whole lot of questions? What are they, who invented them, do they actually cause death, and so on and so forth on that jolly trajectory. To put all of our minds at ease we’ve answered the most Googled questions about battered Mars bars below. We’ve even included a recipe, and where to buy them in Edinburgh. You. Are. Welcome.
What is a deep fried Mars bar?
Photo credit: Instagram/ @gr.eat.food
An existential question, certainly, but if we had to put our finger on it, a battered Mars bar is two things. A Mars bar and batter. It might come as a surprise that it is literally that simple, but then life is full of surprises is it not. In many a Scottish fish and chip shop you’ll find that they’ll fairly obligingly dunk you a Mars bar from their back shelf into a vat of batter, yes the very same one they dip the fish in, and chuck it in the fryer, only for it to emerge a couple of moments later crisp and golden. The only question remaining to be answered is, do you put salt and vinegar on it? We aren’t sure they’re a sensible food pairing, but we’ve seen the combination with our own eyes.
Deep fried mars bar calories: what's the damage?
It’s quite crude to talk about such things as numbers when lusting over a deep fried Mars bar, but you asked the question so here we are tasked with answering it. It has long been touted that one of these beauties will come in at a scorching 1200 calories, but according to the Scotsman the calories in a battered mars bar actually tot up to somewhere between 600-900 calories, which if you think about it isn’t too bad. If we go with the lower end of the scale you can have around four and be done with your daily intake. Although we’re not sure it would tick all your other nutritional boxes. If you’re concerned about your diet we advise you speak to a professional and certainly don't follow the advice above.
How bad for you is a deep fried mars bar, really?
Photo credit: Instagram/ @rob.horseman
How long is a piece of string, you know? How bad battered Mars bars are for you is a tricky question but we’d be willing to stake our life on a wager that they’re not great for you. Aside from the calorie count potentially nearing the 1000 mark, they are thought to additionally contain up to 25% of your daily fat allowance, as well as harbour many an ‘anti-nutrients’, like sugar, glucose syrup and vegetable fat. It’s not looking like great news if you were hoping to make them a regular feature of your diet, but everything in moderation.
Supposedly Mars have publically distanced themselves from the idea of deep-frying, announcing that they do not condone the chip-shop-sport of covering their precious product in thick batter. Seems a bit rude. According to an article in the Daily Mail they sent a note to the inventors of this glorious snack asking them to stop attaching the chocolate company’s brand to their invention. Evie Kyriakides, senior regional trademark counsel for Mars Europe, wrote: ‘We are concerned that the use and reference to our Mars brand and products may mislead the public into thinking that your products are in some way associated with, or endorsed by, Mars, when this is not in fact the case.’ And it would appear that Mars consider their product ‘healthy’, as Evie added, Mars have a 'marketing code, through which we promote a healthy, active lifestyle to consumers. We have recently reduced the saturated fat level in our Mars Bar recipe. Deep-frying our Mars Bar product, of course, counters this significantly.' Well, there you go then, it's the batter that's the problem here.
Who invented the deep fried Mars bar?
If we’re all sitting comfortably we can begin on our brief history of the battered Mars bar. With his very own Wikipedia listing no less, John Davie is thought to have invented this Scottish treat in his Northern chippy, the Haven Chip Bar (which is now called the Carron if you’re on the hunt for it). Sitting pretty in the seaside town of Stonehaven, which is near Aberdeen, John’s chippy is thought to have started serving these delights in 1992 after a child popped in and asked for a Mars supper off the cuff (so they're the true genius here, turns out). That’s 27 glorious years we’ve been blessed with John’s invention, and for that we’ll be forever grateful. In the same Wikipedia listing, which we’ve used for much of this section’s research, they claim that the Carron chipshop say they sell 100-150 Mars bars each and every week thanks to their reputation, and rather depressingly of all sales of deep fried Mars bars it is thought that 76% of them are sold to children.
Deep fried Mars bar death, is that a thing?
While elsewhere in the UK children are read fables and tales to warn them of silly mistakes their forefathers made, the bairns of Scotland are led to believe that their cousin’s auntie’s brother once knew someone who died of eating too many deep fried Mars bars and that they should avoid the same fate at all costs. We can find no evidence to suggest that anyone has died as the direct result of eating deep fried Mars bars, but never say never.
What does a deep fried mars bar taste like?
Now we’re talking some sense. Let’s get to the really important stuff, what does a battered Mars bar taste like? Well, what if we told you it lies somewhere between a doughnut and a chocolate-packed cookie straight from the oven? The inside melts, creating a pool of chocolate and caramel with the chew of nougat, while the outside maintains the illustrious crunch of batter. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, is all we’ll say.
A deep fried mars bar recipe
We wouldn’t advise dealing with the admin of a deep fried Mars bar recipe when someone else with more finesse and experience will do it for you, but each to their own. If you insist on the homemade version of this chip shop treat, here’s how to do it.
- 65g flour
- 150ml water
- 2 Mars bars
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- Make the batter by whisking together the flour and water, as well as a pinch of salt, adding the liquid slowly until you have a thick, but still runny, mixture that has no lumps.
- Add the oil to a deep-sided pan and bring to 190C. you can also test the oil by adding a drop of batter into it. You know it’s hot enough when the batter rises to the top instantly, browning and crisping on its way up.
- Dunk the Mars bar in the batter to fully coat it before adding to the hot oil. Fry for 1-2mins, until crisp and golden, before removing with a slotted spoon and draining on kitchen paper.
Where to buy a deep fried Mars bar in Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city
Photo credit: Instagram/ @otterskitchen
After all your research you’ve probably worked up an appetite, which means you may want to try one of these delicacies yourself, and we understand that. Welcome to Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh, where a whole host of eateries will indulge your desire for a deep fried Mars (and some even go so far as to batter any chocolate bar, with Snickers being touted as a particular favourite from those in the know). The below list might seem scant, but they’re only the chip shops that are loud and proud about their offering, most places will do you a battered chocolate bar if you ask nicely. Here’s where to get a deep fried Mars bar in Edinburgh.
Just a hop, skip and a jump from Edinburgh’s Old Town, this local fryer serves up deep fried Mars bars to hungry punters passing by. If lucky enough to be visiting around Easter you’ll be pleased to know that no chocolate is out of bounds, and that the team at Clamshell specialise in deep fried Crème Eggs.
Where: 148 High Street, EH1 1QS
The Royal Mile Tavern
If you’re more of a sit-in kinda person then head to The Royal Mile Tavern, where you can eat your battered Mars bar with a knife and fork, like a civilised soul. The pub is smack bang in the centre of town, so easy if you’re out and about exploring the other (inferior) sights of Edinburgh. For those not wishing to sample local delicacies the menu offers up all sorts of other pub grub.
Where: 127 High St, EH1 1SG
Wouldn’t dream of indulging in a deep fried Mars bar without having something to line your stomach first? You’re in the right place. Bene’s offer a well-rounded menu of fish and chips, pizzas and kebabs to kick things off, with battered Mars bars on the menu for pudding (but only so long as you eat all of your dinner first).
Where: 162 Canongate, EH8 8DD
For under £2 you can get your mitts on one of Concorde’s famous fried Mars bars. Expect gooey chocolate and crisp batter served up in signature chippy style, that's a piece of paper of course. While you’re there you may as well treat yourself to a fish supper, which the team here do very well, and douse in salt and vinegar for you if you so wish.
Where: 51 Home St, EH3 9JP
The Castle Rock
If you want your Mars with a side of serious views then the Castle Rock Chip Shop in Grassmarket should do the trick. Set below Edinburgh Castle itself this casual eatery is famed for its huge portions, and of course its fried Mars bars. Go hungry, and if it’s a nice day enjoy your spoils in the sun. Everyone knows natural light is best for the inevitable Instagram anyway.
Where: 87 Grassmarket, EH1 2HJ
Sometimes deep fried Mars bar cravings strike at the funniest times, and thankfully Giulianos is there to ensure you get your fix any time of the day, with opening hours that stretch into the wee hours. Officially marketed as a contemporary Italian trattoria, if you know what to ask for the takeaway branch of this Edinburgh restaurant will serve you up a deep fried delight.
Where: 18-19 Union St, EH1 3NQ
Mermaid Fish Bar
Don’t let the name of this spot put you off the scent, they do in fact serve more than fish. Over on Leith Walk this chippy is a little out of town, but all good things are worth fighting for. If you plump for this option Leith itself is pretty and packed with cute coffee shops, so you could make an afternoon of it and visit the seaside while you’re at it for that quintessential chip shop experience.
Where: 43-45 Leith Walk, EH6 8LS
Prefer fine dining to deep frying? Check out our guide to the best Michelin star restaurants in Edinburgh, guarenteed to be posher than a deep fried Mars bar.