Americans love their candy! On average, we eat 25 pounds of candy per person, per year. So, where did candy come from?
The word ‘candy’ comes from the Arabic “qandi”, meaning something made from sugar – and the principal ingredient in candy is sugar. Before sugar was readily available, honey was the main ingredient. Honey was used by the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans to coat fruits, flowers, and the seeds or stems of plants to preserve them as future ingredients. During the Middle Ages, sweets were used as a medical treatment for digestive troubles and to mask the bad taste of other medicines. Today’s cough drops and peppermint sticks are descended from this tradition.
The first candy came from Britain and France to the United States in the early eighteenth century. Only a few colonists were proficient in sugar work, so only the rich were able to enjoy this confection. By the 1830s, technology and the abundance of sugar opened up the candy market for all to enjoy. In 1847, the candy press was invented which allowed for mass production.
Candy was generally sold unwrapped from carts in the street, where it was exposed to dirt and insects. After the polio outbreak in 1916, candy was only sold in upscale candy stores in glass jars. By 1925, wax paper, foil and cellophane were imported from France by DuPont, allowing candy to be packaged without human touch.
If you’d like to make your own candy, the Cheshire Library has a nice assortment of books located downstairs in the Reference department in the 641.853 section. Some titles are:
The Sweet Book of Candy Making by Elizabeth LaBau
Handcrafted Candy Bars by Susie Norris
The Complete Step-by-Step guide to making sweets, candy and chocolates by Claire Ptak
Truffles, Candies and Confections by Carole Bloom
You can also enjoy some adult mysteries with a candy theme:
Candy Cane Murder by Joanne Fluke
Sucker Punch (A Candy Shop Mystery) by Sammi Carter
Goody Goody Gunshots (A Candy Shop Mystery) by Sammi Carter
Peppermint Twisted (A Candy Shop Mystery) by Sammi Carter
Chocolate Dipped Death (A Candy Shop Mystery) by Sammi Carter
And for the children who want to learn a little bit more about candy:
Sweet! The Delicious Story of Candy by Ann Love
The Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Fractions Book by Jerry Pallotta
Chocolate by Hershey by Betty Buford