A spice bag consists of a mix of chips – what the Irish and British call chips, French fries to those from the US – crispy battered chicken or chicken balls, green and red peppers, fried onions and a blend of spices.
After having first appeared on takeaway menus during the early 2010s, the spice bag quickly became hugely popular across the city of Dublin and the wider country, with a Facebook appreciation society for the dish gathering tens of thousands of followers. In 2015, it was voted Ireland’s favourite takeaway dish at the Just Eat National Takeaway Awards, further increasing its fame.
The extent of the Irish love of the spice bag is a difficult thing to explain to those outside the country – last October, Twitter even dedicated a Moment to clarify what’s in a spice bag and why it’s so popular. It’s repeatedly listed as one of the best hangover foods in Ireland, but even without alcohol withdrawals, people adore the taste of the spice bag.
Earlier this year when tubs of spice bag seasoning became available in select stores in Dublin and Cork, they sold out within a week in some outlets. Inventive food bloggers have come up with multiple interpretations of a homemade spice bag. The dish has also become a cultural phenomenon, being given its own Irish translation – mála spíosraí – and being adopted by Irish teens as a tongue-in-cheek Instagram hashtag, referencing the idea of the so-called ‘Dublin hun’.
In spite of its acclaim, the true history of the spice bag remained something of a mystery until August 2016, when multiple Irish online media outlets announced that the origins of the spice bag had finally been revealed.
Reporter and radio producer Liam Geraghty discovered that it was first invented by the people at The Sunflower Chinese takeaway in Templeogue, County Dublin in 2010. As well as laying claim to being the first, the spice bag at The Sunflower was named the best in Ireland at the 2016 Just Eat Awards.