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The History of Candy

The Sweet Possibilities are Limitless.

Candy really isn't that complicated. Candy refers to several types of confections, both soft and hard, made of sugar that has been cooked. Different heating and cooling temperatures determine the type of candy produced. High temperatures make hard candy, medium heat makes soft candy, and cooler temperatures make chewy candy. Exact heating levels make the production of candy scientific.

Humans have been chomping on sweets for thousands of years. During ancient times, the Egyptians, Arabs, and Chinese were known to prepare sweet confections of fruit and nuts candied in honey. For years, sugar was traded throughout the Middle East, but it didn't leave that region until the Crusaders discovered the "sweet salt" on their conquests. Sugar spread to Europe sometimes in the 11th century once the Crusaders returned from their travels. Impressed with the exotic sweetened drinks and fruits they found abroad, they created a demand once they landed back home. As sugarcane became available, its high cost made consuming confections and sweets a delicacy accessible only to the wealthy. By the 13th century, Venice was the sugar capital of the world.

When candies originally met cocoa, it did not seem they had much in common. But as they moved from luxury items to the mainstream, that would change. Production of both sugar and cocoa increased and therefore prices decreased, allowing more people to enjoy them. Slowly, chocolate appeared in cakes and pastries. Even with cheaper prices, only the simple boiled sugar hard candies were enjoyed by most in 17th century in England and in the American colonies. It did not take long for early confectioners to start mixing all luscious ingredients together to make chocolate candy. Sweet making developed rapidly into an industry during the early 19th century after the discovery of natural fruit and vegetable juice sweeteners.

By the mid 1800s, more than 380 American factories were producing penny candy. By the 1850s, accessible candies shifted from simple hard candies to fudges and chocolate-coated pieces. By the 1870s, many candies were beginning to be sold in elaborate bottles and boxes, packed up for easy distribution and freshness.

Candy, because of its glorious and regal background, had always been a symbolic component of special occasions, courting, and holidays. Words that described the taste of candy such as sweetie, sugar, and honey were becoming terms of affection.

The candy bar became widely known with World War I when manufacturing methods were updated to accommodate orders from U.S. soldiers serving overseas. The 1920s was a booming time for bars, with as many as 40,000 candy bars in production. Candy products helped feed the masses during the Depression and was often peddled as a satisfying and healthy meal substitute.

Today, Americans still have a collective sweet tooth; the average person consumes 12 pounds of sugar candy product each year.

The list of candy that is no longer available continues to grow, as does the need to celebrate the candy that is still available. It is these classic American candies that really take people back to the simple time when life was all about a bag of penny candy from the five-and-dime. There is nothing quite like unwrapping a remembered sweet and experiencing a delicious taste from the past.

Confectionary Facts - Discover what Wikipedia has to say about the shelf life, history, packaging, sugar stages and different classifications of candies at Wikipedia: Candy