A favorite of young and old alike, National Hard Candy Day is observed annually on December 19.
Most hard candies are 100% sugar with flavoring and colors added. To achieve a hard candy, confectioners boil a sugar syrup to 320 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the temperature is reached, the hot, pliable sugar is poured into molds or rolled and folded into shapes and left to cool. Once cool, the solid sugar becomes hardened and brittle.
The first hard candies such as lemon drops and peppermints were likely prescribed as a remedy for stomach ailments.
Hard candy became popular in the seventeenth century as sugar prices fell. Previously, hard candy was something that only the well-to-do could afford. By the mid-1800s, over 400 companies were manufacturing this popular treat.
In 2015, Jolly Ranch surpassed Werther’s Original was the best selling hard candy. Other popular hard candies include Dum Dum Pops, Life Savers, Tootsie Roll Pops and Charms Blow Pop.
Prior to the 1920s– Horehound Drops, Anise Squares, Bob’s Peppermint Candy, Brach’s Maple Nut, Butterscotch Discs,Cinnamon Disks, Cut Rock Cinnamon, Rock Candy, Lifesavers, Old Fashion Hard Candy, and varieties of Reeds candies, including Root Beer Barrels and Butter Rum.
1920s – Charms Pops and Balls and Old Fashioned Candy Sticks
1930s – Lifesavers included Butter Rum, Cherry, Spearmint and Tropical Flavors, and Tootsie Pops
1940s – Jolly Ranchers all assortments
1950s – Atomic Fireballs, Root Beer Barrels, Charms Candy Sour Balls, Cherry Lumps, Coffee Rio, Ice Blue Mint Coolers, Jolly Rancher, Mint Lumps
1960s– Lemonheads, Smarties Lollies, Pop Rocks, and Swizzle Sticks Hard Candies
1970s – Charms Blow Pops, Root Beer Floats, Cherry Bon Bons
1980s – War Heads, Smarties Mega Double Lollipops, and Skittles