Meet the Greeks

Loukoumi Delight

A Syrian Legacy


Vaporia, the aristocratic quarter of Hermoupolis, Apollo Theater, a miniature of the Scala di Milano, Fragosyriani, the emblem song of Markos Vamvakaris, the patriarch of Rebetiko music genre, the loukoumi delight, a Syrian legacy; all of these define the noble spirit of the duchess of the Cyclades.


It’s definite that “loukoumi” remains an emblem for Syros island, from the time that refugees from Chios and Asia Minor found shelter on the island.


Rose, mastic and vanilla that gave a delight to the palate of the Sultans, the world-renowned “loukoumi”, is an integral part of Syros’ legacy. By conquering the palaces of the Ottoman Empire, the traditional Syrian legacy is served in all the traditional cafeterias along with Greek coffee baked on ember.

Unquestionably, the Syrian “loukoumi” is the ambassador of Syros Island that made it famous throughout the world. The magic element that made “loukoumi” from Syros unbeatable was the fine water. On the barren land of that anhydrous island, the slightly salty water from the minor sources of Syros, gave the exclusive identity to this product that has been identified as a Syrian delight. Although many people tried to re-produce it with rain and running water in other cities, none was so absolutely fantastic.


The production of “loukoumi” started off on the island of Chios and Constantinople in the 18th century, and its name derives from the Turkish word “lokum”, which characterizes a delight from sugar and starch.


The Syrian Loukoumi Source:

According to many, the confenctioner Haci Bekir was the father of “loukoumi”. When the Sultan sought for a soft dessert because he broke his tooth from the hard candy, the small pastry shop run by Bekir created a soft mixture, cut it in small bites and sprouted it with sugar. By then, the famous “loukoumi”, known as Rahat Al Hulcum, gave Haci Bekir the position of the palace’s chief confectioner. Soon after, the “loukoumi” became the favourite dessert of Napoleon Bonaparte, the British Prime Minister Wiston Churchill, and the famous painter Pablo Picasso.


The art of “loukoumi” was brought to Syros from Chian craftsmen of Constantinople, who added the exquisite mastic to the recipe.

The first laboratory of Syrian Loukoumi “Stamatelakis” was established in 1837.

Following the destruction of Asia Minor and Chios Massacre (1822), refugees find shelter on the island of Syros, where they introduce the art of loukoumi. A few years later (1837), the first official brand name of loukoumi, namely Stamatelakis, is established. The Turkish word, though, prevailed internationally since the delight was known to the world for its production in Asia Minor. It is really interesting that the genuine artisans of loukoumi were mainly Chians, who transferred the art to Constantinople. From that time onwards, the unique art of loukoumi-making was passed from generation to generation. It is no coincidence that mastic and almond rosewood were the first and most important flavors of loukoumi from Turkey and Syros, natural materials that were found around Chios Island.

Emptying the mixture on a wooden panel covered with flour at the laboratory of Loukoumi Denaxa Source:

Quoting Dina Sekoutre, the daughter of one of the first loukoumi artisans from Hermoupolis:


“The Chians who arrived on Syros had one thing: the recipe for loukoumi, an integral part of their tradition. This is the reason why the first materials used for the loukoumi’s production were mastic, almonds and mastic. Loukoumi existed long before the establishment of Hermoupolis. It was the first exported product from Greece. From 1840 onwards, the Syrian loukoumi travelled to Paris, Vienna up to Japan, reaching exports of 8 tons in the beginning of the 20th century” (Source:

Powdering process at the laboratory Denaxas Loukoumi Source:

For many decades, the main ingredients of loukoumi were water, sugar and starch. Especially in the beginning of time, preparation was difficult and needed knowledge and taste. Those ingedients were boiled within cauldrons on fireplaces made with firebricks, and the artisans were obliged to stir them constantly until they found, from their expertise, that the mixture was ready to be put off the fireplace. Thereafter, it was emptied on a wooden pane covered with flour, and it stayed there to cool. The following day, the loukoumi mixture was cut with large iron knives, on a bench covered with powdered sugar, else known as “loukoumoskoni”. The production and packaging processes, from the cauldron until the tasting of the mouth-watering delight from the consumers, “loukoumi” underwent through several stages; cutting, placement on cardboard boxes, weighing, dusting with powder, sealing, wrapping and labeling. Over the years, the varieties of “loukoumi” were developed.


The Production Process of loukoumi-making Source:

Artisans of loukoumi began experimenting with various flavours such as mandarin, coconut, almond, peanut, walnut, mastic, rose and bergamot amongst others.


The first union of the Loukoumi Greek Manufacturers was founded in 1944, which operated until the beginning of the 1960s. Today, there are 6 confectioners, who specialize in loukoumi including Leivadaras (T:0030.22810.87031), Korres (T:0030.22810.82037), Denaxas (0030.22810.84200), Sykoutris (T:0030.22810.81390), and Kanakaris (T:0030.22810.81898).


“The Syrian Loukoumi” at Hermoupolis Industrial Museum


Within the premises of the Industrial Museum of Hermoupolis, travellers will have the opportunity to discover the permanent exhibition “The Syrian Loukoumi” that was set up on August, 2013 as a part of the 1st Loukoumi Festival organized from the Society of Friends of Hermoupolis Culture. The exhibition showcases rare objects of the origin and the development from the loukoumi production in Hermoupolis including unpublished photographic material, rare metal packs of loukoumi, collectible packing loukoumi boxes from Stamatelakis, Rigou, and Magou & Logotiatou, cauldrons, a sugar weighing scale, cutting knives and many other tools.

Rare loukoumi packaging box of Logiotatou