If you live in Hungary, chances are you have a Hungarian friend who has moved abroad. And if you ever visit that friend from Hungary, you can be sure that they will ask you to bring some Túró Rudi along. Note: this is not really a request. Show up at their doorstep without Túró Rudi at your own peril. And don’t get creative here. Don’t substitute a more expensive chocolate bar or fancy cheese thinking you have just upgraded the request. This will end in certain disappointment, anguish, and potentially a broken friendship. When it comes to Túró Rudi, keep it simple. Store bought, preferably in a six Rudi value pack.
Take the Túró Rudi in carry-on luggage to keep it from getting lost. Due to its size, Túró Rudi is very portable. Your friend knows this. Unlike large American brand candy bars, Túró Rudi is diminutive in stature, unless you opt for the Óriás, or giant bar. (Don’t try telling anybody that’s too much of a good thing.) While the snack is offered in a variety of flavors like apricot, strawberry, and raspberry jam, the plain, “natúr” dark chocolate dipped bar is what your friend will be craving. Once you arrive, give them over without delay.
Túró Rudi is one of those acquired tastes, but once acquired, impossible to shake. For foreigners, this classic Hungarian snack can be difficult to take to. The uninitiated may resist the idea of eating cold curd cheese dipped in chocolate (and it’s not even real chocolate). The flavors sound incongruent, like something made from leftover ingredients, or some kitchen accident. What kind of mad outlier decided this was a good idea?
Túró (curd) Rudi (rod, or bar, as well as the diminutive of the name Rudolph) has been around in Hungary since 1968, making it a half century old. It is told that a man named Antal Deák discovered a similar Soviet snack while studying in the USSR, and brought the idea back to Hungary with him to develop into the treat we know today. Though the ‘Rudi’ references the Red Baron, there are those who read erotic connotations into the name. But we know this not to be true: even though they have been known to tempt vegans into ‘cheating’, Túró Rudi is about friendship.
It’s is worth noting that Túró Rudi may not wait for you to travel. Túró Rudi also has friends abroad. Foreign variations have sprung up, including the Turo Kiittyy in China, and the Landfrisch Rud in Austria. In Japan, where they have a reputation for being enthusiastic consumers of foreign pop culture, there are websites dedicated to the Hungarian treat. Why the Spanish haven’t introduced the ‘churros rudi’ is anybody’s guess.
Túró Rudi’s qualities suit everybody. It’s an inexpensive housewarming gift, portable, and never goes to waste. The one danger is that there may be tricky people issuing invitations solely for your ability to deliver them Túró Rudi. You may become a Túró Rudi mule. Don’t doubt that this can happen.
Do your job well, and you will be offered a reward in the form of a prize túró rudi. Not even the best of friends are selfless enough to resist. A Túró Rudi in Hungary is one thing, but a Túró Rudi abroad is something entirely more exotic, desirable, and worth experiencing. The Túró Rudi, to be clear, dressed in its iconic pöttyös red polka dot wrapper, is a taste of home, and for some the taste of home.
Túró Rudi can be found at any convenience store, grocery store, gas station shop, or market in Hungary! Sample it, and learn more about it and other Hungarian specialties on Taste Hungary’s Culinary Walk or Culinary Walk: Sunday Brunch Edition.