Hokey Pokey: New Zealand’s Best Kept Secret


hokey pokey


Candy surprise from Down-Under

I had forgotten all about hokey pokey until recently when we went down to visit my family in New Zealand.  Suddenly I saw it everywhere: in ice-cream, in biscuits, in chocolate and even by itself.  It’s New Zealand’s best kept secret (or maybe second best, after the fact that NZ has beaches to rival those in the Caribbean).  I have never seen it outside of the country. As far as I know, they don’t even make it in Australia, which is astonishing as those Australians are always stealing our recipes (look at pavlova, marmite, anzac biscuits…….the list goes on).  Now, for any Australians reading this, don’t worry….you still have your kangaroo meat pies and crocodile steaks all for you. 🙂



hokey pokey step 1


I have discovered in my travels that there is a kind of candy called honeycomb in the UK that is similar, but it doesn’t seem to be as ubiquitous as in NZ. there, you find it everywhere : coated in chocolate, in ice-cream, and made at home and in school science labs all over the country.


hokey pokey step 2


Fast and fun to make

Hokey pokey takes about five minutes to make and only has three ingredients.  It’s lots of fun to make with kids as it has that “WOW!” factor when you add the baking soda to the sugar syrup.  If the baking soda is fresh, it’ll foam up very impressively.  I remember making it in science class at high school to study the reaction.  Well, I mainly remember eating it, but not much about the explanation behind the reaction. The science lab bit is because of the fantastic foaming reaction between the hot caramel syrup and baking soda that you add at the end to make the holes in the candy. 


hokey pokey step 5

hokey pokey step 6


Let’s do the Hokey Pokey

Hokey Pokey is also the name of a dance.  One that you probably did on camp, or when you were at school.  Some call it the Hokey Cokey, but I like to think that it’s related to this sweet somehow. Maybe the original makers of hokey pokey, sang the accompanying song, “You put your right foot in. You put your right foot out. In, out, in ,out and wave it all about” while they were waiting for it to cool down.


hokey pokey step 7


Very important tips to know

There are only a few important things to remember when making hokey pokey:

1. Stir the sugar when it’s melting, otherwise it will burn.

2. After adding the baking soda, scrape it IMMEDIATELY onto a plate as it sets very quickly.

3. Don’t touch it until it has cooled down, otherwise you will get burned.  It sticks to your skin very easily when its hot.

4. Wash all the tools you use to make it straight away as the caramel sticks to everything otherwise.

The last two points come from personal experience.  I tried it so you don’t have to!

That’s about it.  Once you’ve made it, it will keep for a few days in an airtight container.  You may find though that it will be already eaten after a few minutes!


If you’re looking for other sweet treats from New Zealand don’t hesitate to check out mothballs and russian fudge.



By Lisa Watson

Hokey Pokey Candy

A three ingredient candy and a fun science experiment, all rolled into one!
Prep Time2 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time7 mins
Course: Snack
Cuisine: New Zealand


  • 140 g White Sugar 10 Tbsp
  • 50 g Golden Syrup 4 Tbsp
  • 2 tsp Baking soda


  • Grease a plate or pie dish.
  • Heat the sugar and golden syrup in a medium-sized pot at a medium-low temperature.  Stir constantly with a wooden spoon or a whisk until the sugar has melted.
    hokey pokey step 2
  • Simmer on a medium-low heat for 5 minutes, stirring continuously, until it turns a golden amber colour. If you have a cady thermometer, wait until the temperature gets to 145 - 150 degrees C (293 - 303 degrees F).
  • Take the pot of the heat and immediately add the baking soda.  Stir madly and watch it foam up (very exciting for the kids!).
    hokey pokey step 6
  • Pour it STRAIGHT AWAY on to the greased plate/dish and leave it to become cold and set. DO NOT TOUCH IT WHEN IT'S HOT (it'll stick to your fingers and burn you).
    hokey pokey step 7
  • When it has cooled, break it into pieces and eat it!

19 Responses to Hokey Pokey: New Zealand’s Best Kept Secret

  1. mjskit

    I’ve never heard of this and I love it! I can see crumbled this up in ice cream. YUM! I’d be dancing the hokey pokey after eating this. 🙂

  2. Emma

    It’s slowly catching on in the UK – which makes me SO happy!

  3. Lisa

    That’s great news, Emma! Soon, we will take over the world!! Mwah ha ha ha!!

  4. Sylvia Quenet-Chute

    Have I got news for you! My mother used to make it for us when we were kids – I am now 80! Seems there’s nothing new in the world…

  5. Lisa

    Amazing, Sylvia!!! It’s an old recipe for sure! I think you’re right: things just keep getting recycled! 🙂

  6. Leela

    This sweet is everywhere just known under different names

  7. Lisa

    I think it is in a few other countries, Leela. It’s called honeycomb in the UK, I believe. Do you know of other places it’s made?

  8. Cyndi

    Is this the same thing that’s called just Pokey, or Pokie?

  9. Lisa

    Good question, Cyndi. In New Zealand it’s always called Hokey Pokey, but maybe in other countries it has a different name. In England, it’s called Honeycomb, for example.

  10. Barbara

    What is golden syrup? I’m thinking maybe light corn syrup.

  11. Lisa

    Golden Syrup is a caramelized sugar syrup. It has a special taste, so if you can, try to get some to make the hokey pokey. If you can’t find it, maybe you could try to use maple syrup as the taste of the syrup is important for this candy.

  12. Menchu Wright

    Is it a cookie?

  13. Lisa

    No, it’s candy. It’s crunchy and very sweet.

  14. Dave Williams

    Made this in science lab at Wanganui high school in 1980

  15. Lisa

    Hahaha I did too, but in a school science class in Whangarei. 😀

  16. Azlin Bloor

    Definitely something I’m going to have to make as soon as those braces are off the kids! Love the new picture!

  17. Lisa

    Thanks! It definitely needed a redo. 😀 When I retook it, I suddenly realized how much I’ve learnt about photography in these last few years.

  18. Maria

    Such fun recipe, just like its name! I always enjoy reading your posts, Lisa. I’m feeling the child-like urge to dance around the plate while waiting for the candy to cool down.

  19. Lisa

    LOL!! That would make the recipe even more fun to make!

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