National Candy Day is observed annually on November 4th. Candies come in numerous colors, shapes, sizes and varieties and have a long history in popular culture.
It was in the late 13th century that the Middle English word candy began to be used, coming into English from the Old French cucre candi, derived in turn from Persian Qand and Qandi, cane sugar.
People use the term candy as a broad category that includes candy bars, chocolates, licorice, sour candies, salty candies, tart candies, hard candies, taffies, gumdrops, marshmallows and much more.
Way back in time, before sugar was readily available, candy was made from honey. The honey was used to coat fruits and flowers to preserve them or to create forms of candy. There is still candy that is served in this way today, but it is typically seen as a garnish.
Originally a form of medicine, candy calmed the digestive system or cooled a sore throat.
It was in the 18th century that the first candy is believed to have come to America from Britain and France. At this time, the simplest form of candy was Rock Candy made from crystallized sugar. However, even the basic form of sugar was considered a luxury and was only attainable by the wealthy.
Since 1979, the world has produced more sugar than can be sold, making it very attainable and cheap.
When the technological advances and the availability of sugar opened up the market in the 1830s, the candy business underwent a drastic change. Candy was not only for the enjoyment of the well to do but the pleasure of everyone. Penny candies became popular, targeting children.
- 1847 – Invention of the candy press making it possible to produce multiple shapes and sizes of candy at one time.
- 1851 – Confectioners began using a revolving steam pan to assist in boiling sugar.
The two top-selling candies in America have been:
- M & M’S — M&M’s are milk chocolate drops with a colorful candy coating on the outside. The candies were first manufactured in 1941 and were given to American soldiers serving in the Second World War. M&M’s are produced by Mars Inc.
- Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups — Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are round chocolate disks that are filled with a sweet, creamy peanut butter filling. The cups were first manufactured in 1928 by the Hershey’s company. They are named after the inventor Harry Burnett Reese.
Candy Fun Facts:
- The first chocolate eggs were made in Europe in the early 19th century and remain among the most popular treats associated with Easter.
- The winter holidays represent the biggest boxed chocolate selling season.
- How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie-pop? According to student researchers at Purdue, it’s 364 licks.
- Until the 1930s, the Sugar Daddy candy pop was called the “Papa Sucker.”
- The name “Pez” comes from the German word “pfeffErminZ,” meaning “peppermint.”
- Despite the close association between candy and Halloween, Christmas is actually the biggest candy sales season of the year.