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Candy in Damascus.jpg
Candy at a souq in Damascus, Syria
Alternative name(s) Sugar candy
Main ingredient(s) Sugar or honey, water
Liquorice is a confectionery flavoured with the extract of the roots of the liquorice plant. Photo of liquorice sold in Jyväskylä, Finland.
Kompeitō is a traditional Japanese candy. Its production takes between 7 and 10 days.
Chikki are homemade candies popular in India as well as in Brazil, where similar peanut-based candies are called Pé-de-moleque.
Batasha are one of many traditional candies found in South Asia. Flavored varieties include nuts and mint
Haribo gummy bears were the first gummi candy ever made

Candy, also called sweets or lollies, is a confection that features sugar as a principal ingredient. The category, called sugar confectionery, encompasses any sweet confection, including candy bars, chocolates, chewing gum, licorice, hard candies, taffies, gumdrops, marshmallows, and more.[1][2] Vegetables, fruit, or nuts which have been glazed and coated with sugar are said to be candied.

Physically, candy is characterized by the use of a significant amount of sugar, or, in the case of sugar-free candies, by the presence of sugar substitutes. Unlike a cake or loaf of bread that would be shared among many people, candies are usually made in smaller pieces. However, the definition of candy also depends upon how people treat the food. Unlike sweet pastries served for a dessert course at the end of a meal, candies are normally eaten casually, often with the fingers, as a snack between meals. Each culture has its own ideas of what constitutes candy rather than dessert. The same food may be a candy in one culture and a dessert in another.[3]

The global sales of sugar confectionery candy market in 2010 were about $57.5 billion.[4] Confectionery sales in the United States in 2012 reached 23.6 billion.[5]


Before sugar was readily available, candy was made from honey. Honey was used in Ancient China, Middle East, Egypt, Greece and the Roman Empire to coat fruits and flowers to preserve them or to create forms of candy.[6] Candy is still served in this form today, though now it is more typically seen as a type of garnish.

Candy was originally a form of medicine, either used to calm the digestive system or cool a sore throat. In the Middle Ages candy appeared on the tables of only the most wealthy at first. At that time it began as a combination of spices and sugar that was used as an aid to digestive problems. Digestive problems were very common during this time due to the constant consumption of food that was neither fresh nor well balanced. Banquet hosts would typically serve these types of 'candies' at banquets for their guests. One of these candies, sometimes referred to as a 'chamber spice', was made with cloves, ginger, aniseed, juniper berries, almonds and pine kernels dipped in melted sugar.[6]

The Middle English word candy began to be used in the late 13th century.[7][8]

In the United States

The first candy came to America in the early eighteenth century from Britain and France. Only a few of the early colonists were proficient in sugar work and were able to provide the sugary treats for the very wealthy. Rock candy, made from crystallized sugar, was the simplest form of candy, but even this basic form of sugar was considered a luxury and was only attainable by the rich.[9] In contrast, since 1979 the world has produced more sugar than can be sold, making it very attainable and cheap.[6]

The candy business underwent a drastic change in the 1830s when technological advances and the availability of sugar opened up the market. The new market was not only for the enjoyment of the rich but also for the pleasure of the working class as well. There was also an increasing market for children. Confectioners were no longer the venue for the wealthy and high class but for children as well. While some fine confectioners remained, the candy store became a staple of the child of the American working class. Penny candies epitomized this transformation of candy. Penny candy became the first material good that children spent their own money on. For this reason candy store-owners relied almost entirely on the business of children to keep them running. Even penny candies were directly descended from medicated lozenges that held bitter medicine in a hard sugar coating.[10]

In 1847, the invention of the candy press (also known as a toy machine) made it possible to produce multiple shapes and sizes of candy at once. In 1851, confectioners began to use a revolving steam pan to assist in boiling sugar. This transformation meant that the candy maker was no longer required to continuously stir the boiling sugar. The heat from the surface of the pan was also much more evenly distributed and made it less likely the sugar would burn. These innovations made it possible for only one or two people to successfully run a candy business.[9]


Chemically, sugar candies are broadly divided into two groups: crystalline candies and amorphous candies.[11] Crystalline candies are not as hard as crystals of the mineral variety, but derive their name and their texture from their microscopically organized sugar structure, formed through a process of crystallization, which makes them easy to bite or cut into. Fudge, creams, and fondant are examples of crystalline candies. Amorphous candies have a disorganized crystalline structure. They usually have higher sugar concentrations, and the texture may be chewy, hard, or brittle. Caramels, nut brittles and toffees are examples of amorphous candies.[11]

Commercially, candies are often divided into three groups, according to the amount of sugar they contain:[11]

  • 100% sugar (or nearly so), such as hard candies or creams
  • 95% sugar or more, with up to 5% other ingredients, such as marshmallows or nougats, and
  • 75 to 95% sugar, with 5 to 25% other ingredients, such as fudge or caramels.

Each of these three groups contains both crystalline and amorphous candies.


Fruit-shaped hard candy
Pantteri is a Finnish candy. The colored ones are fruity, while black are salmiakki (salty liquorice-flavored), a flavor popular in Nordic and Baltic countries.

Candy is made by dissolving sugar in water or milk to form a syrup, which is boiled until it reaches the desired concentration or starts to caramelize. The type of candy depends on the ingredients and how long the mixture is boiled. Candy comes in a wide variety of textures, from soft and chewy to hard and brittle. Some examples are: caramel candy, toffee, fudge, praline, tablet, gumdrops, jelly beans, rock candy, lollipops, taffy, cotton candy, candy canes, peppermint sticks, peanut brittle, chocolate-coated raisins or peanuts, hard candy (called boiled sweets in British English) and candy bars.

The final texture of candy depends on the sugar concentration. As the syrup is heated, it boils, water evaporates, the sugar concentration increases, and the boiling point rises. A given temperature corresponds to a particular sugar concentration. These are called sugar stages. In general, higher temperatures and greater sugar concentrations result in hard, brittle candies, and lower temperatures result in softer candies.[12]

Once the syrup reaches 171 °C (340 °F) or higher, the sucrose molecules break down into many simpler sugars, creating an amber-colored substance known as caramel. This should not be confused with caramel candy, although it is the candy's main flavoring.

Candy and vegetarianism

Traditional holiday candy house.

Some candy, including marshmallows and gummi bears, contain gelatin derived from animal collagen, a protein found in skin and bones, and is thus avoided by vegans and some vegetarians. "Kosher gelatin" is also unsuitable for vegetarians and vegans, as it is derived from fish bones.[13] Other substances, such as agar, pectin, starch and gum arabic may also be used as setting and gelling agents, and can be used in place of gelatin.

Other ingredients commonly found in candy that are not suitable for vegetarian or vegan diets include carmine, a red dye made from cochineal beetles, and confectioner's glaze, which may contain wings or other insect parts.

Shelf life

Because of its high sugar concentration, bacteria are not usually able to grow in candy. As a result, the shelf life of candy is longer than for many foods. Most candies can be safely stored in their original packaging at room temperature in a dry, dark cupboard for months or years. As a rule, the softer the candy or the damper the storage area, the sooner it goes stale.[14]

Shelf life considerations with most candies are focused on appearance, taste, and texture, rather than about the potential for food poisoning. That is, old candy may not look pretty or taste very good, even though it is very unlikely to make the eater sick. Candy can be made unsafe by storing it badly, such as in a wet, moldy area. Typical recommendations are these:[14]

  • Hard candy may last indefinitely in good storage conditions.
  • Milk chocolates and caramels usually become stale after about one year.
  • Dark chocolate lasts up to two years.
  • Soft or creamy candies, like candy corn, may last 8 to 10 months in ideal conditions.
  • Chewing gum and gumballs may stay fresh as long as 8 months after manufacture.

Health aspects


Candy generally contains sugar, which can be involved in tooth decay causing cavities. Sugar is a food for several types of bacteria commonly found in the mouth, particularly Streptococcus mutans; when the bacteria metabolize the sugar they create acids in the mouth which demineralize the tooth enamel and can lead to dental caries.[15] To help prevent this dentists recommend that individuals should brush their teeth regularly, particularly after every meal and snack.

Sugar is often cited as the source of insufficient dentistry, but is in fact the streptococcus bacteria that feed on sugar, not the sweet substance itself, that causes poor teeth. The bacteria eats away tooth enamel the longer it stays in contact with teeth, so the amount of sugar consumed is less important than the time it is left on and in between the teeth.[16]

Glycemic index

Most candy, particularly low-fat candy, has a high glycemic index (GI), which means that it causes a rapid rise in blood sugar levels after ingestion. This is chiefly a concern for people with diabetes, but could also be dangerous to the health of non-diabetics.[17]

Health benefits

Candies that primarily consist of peppermint and mint, such as candy canes, have digestive benefits. Peppermint oil can help soothe an upset stomach by creating defense against irritable bowel syndrome and is effective in killing germs.[18]

Mint-flavored gum increases short-term memory, heart rate, and the amount of oxygen in the brain. The correlation between heart rate and oxygen in the brain triggers short-term memory. Chewing gum can also provide a burst of insulin in the anticipation for food.[19]

When eaten in moderation, dark chocolate can have health benefits. The cocoa in chocolate can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and sodium can be found in chocolate, as well as antioxidants.[20]

In a study of approximately 8,000 individuals, candy consumers enjoyed an average of 0.92 years of longer life, with greater consumption of candy not associated with progressively lower mortality. Non-consumers typically ate less red meat and salads, drank more and were more likely to smoke. Mortality was lowest among those consuming candy 1–3 times a month and highest among those consuming candy three or more times a week. The study concluded that one possible explanation for this was the presence of antioxidant phenols in chocolate, but the study could not differentiate between consumption of sugar candy and chocolate in they study.[21]


Some kinds of candy have been contaminated with an excessive amount of lead in it.[22]

Choking deaths

Hard, round candies are a leading cause of choking deaths in children.[23] Some types of candy, such as Lychee Mini Fruity Gels, have been associated with so many choking deaths that their import or manufacture is banned by some countries.[23][24]


Salt water taffy is usually wrapped in pieces of wax paper.

Candy wrapper or sweets wrapper is a common term for this packaging.[25]

Purposes of packaging

Packaging preserves aroma and flavor and eases shipping and dispensation. Wax paper seals against air, moisture, dust, and germs, while cellophane is valued by packagers for its transparency and resistance to grease, odors and moisture. In addition, it is often resealable. Polyethylene is another form of film sealed with heat, and this material is often used to make bags in bulk packaging. Saran wraps are also common. Aluminum foils wrap chocolate bars and prevent transfer of water vapor, while being lightweight, non-toxic and odor proof. Vegetable parchment lines boxes of high-quality confections like gourmet chocolates. Cardboard cartons are less common, though they offer many options concerning thickness and movement of water and oil.

Packaging may be used as a type of gift wrapping.

Packages are often sealed with a starch-based adhesive derived from tapioca, potato, wheat, sago, or sweet potato. Occasionally, glues are made from the bones and skin of cattle and hogs for a stronger and more flexible product, but this is not as common because of the expense.[26]


Prior to the 1900s, candy was commonly sold unwrapped from carts in the street, where it was exposed to dirt and insects. By 1914 there were some machines to wrap gum and stick candies, but this was not the common practice. After the polio outbreak in 1916, unwrapped candies garnered widespread censure because of the dirt and germs. At the time, only upscale candy stores used glass jars. With advancements in technology wax paper was adopted, and foil and cellophane were imported[vague] from France by DuPont in 1925. Necco packagers were one of the first companies to package without human touch.[27]

Marketing and design

Packaging helps market the product as well. Manufacturers know that candy must be hygienic and attractive to customers. In the children's market quantity, novelty, large size and bright colors are the top sellers.[27] Many companies redesign the packaging to maintain consumer appeal.

Top-selling candies

The table below summarizes some of the top candy brands in the world.

Country Top brands[28] Image 2007 Annual sales
(US$, millions)
 United States M&M's M&M's Plain.jpg 1800 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 manufactured by Mars Inc.[29]
 United States Reese's Peanut Butter Cups Reese's-PB-Cups-Wrapper-Small.jpg Reeses-PB-Cups.jpg 516.5 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.[30]
 Brazil Trident 682 Trident, made by Cadbury, is not only the No. 1 candy in Brazil, it is also the No. 1 brand of chewing gum in the world.
 United Kingdom Cadbury's Dairy Milk Cadbury Dairy Milk 2006.jpg 852 Cadbury's Dairy Milk is a chocolate bar that brags to have a glass and a half of milk in every bar. This chocolate treat was created in 1904 and became an instant hit following its initial sales in 1905.[31] Cadbury was bought out by Kraft Foods in 2010.[4]
 Germany Milka BarraChocolateMilkaalmendrado.JPG 733 Milka is milk chocolate that is manufactured by the Kraft Foods Company. It was first created in 1901. The candy's packaging is unique and includes its iconic lilac-colored cow, which helps tie the candy back to its Alpine heritage.[32]
 France Hollywood Hollywood Chewing Gum.jpg 318 Hollywood Chewing Gum was the first French chewing gum, and it was created in 1952. The French were introduced to chewing gum for the first time by the American troops stationed there in 1944. In 1958, the gum's main advertising focus was that of the American Dream. While Hollywood now offers a variety of different flavors, the very first flavor was spearmint.[33]
 Italy Vivident Gum 313 Vivident is a sugar-free gum that is manufactured by the Perfetti Van Melle Group and is wildly popular in Italy. Advertisements for the gum has been claimed to be behind the gum's popularity.[34]
 Russia Orbit Gum Orbit (gum).jpg 445 Orbit gum first got its name during the Second World War when Wrigley shipped all of their chewing gum overseas to the troops and began manufacturing gum for the civilians under the name of Orbit. After the war, the name Orbit disappeared again. In the 1970s, Wrigley began selling sugar-free gum under the name of Orbit in European countries. It was not until 2001 that Orbit gum returned to the United States.[35]
 Russia Alpen Gold 198 Alpen Gold is a brand of chocolate produced in Russia. They sell chocolate bars, pralines, and boxes of chocolates. Their chocolate often includes ingredients such as raisins, nuts, and liqueur.[36]
 Czech Republic Orion 142 Production of Orion chocolate began in 1896 as a part of a small family business in Prague. The chocolate became very popular, representing 1/3 of the chocolate produced in the Czech Republic. In 1991, Nestlé took over Orion chocolate, which has only helped boost the popularity of the candy.[37]
 China Hsu Fu Chi 256 The Hsu Fu Chi company started in 1992 with brothers by the name of Hsu. The company makes a wide variety of candy, including lollipops, gummies, jelly beans, chocolates, and pastries. The company was bought out by Nestle in 2011.[38]
 Japan Meiji Meiji milk chocolate.jpg 479 Meiji chocolate is manufactured by Meiji Seika Kaisha Ltd., which was established in 1916 and is located in Tokyo. Meiji chocolates flavors include cheese, black pepper, jasmine, basil, and lemon salt.[39]
 India Cadbury's Dairy Milk Cadbury Dairy Milk 2006.jpg 127 Cadbury's Dairy Milk is a chocolate bar that brags to have a glass and a half of milk in every bar. This chocolate treat was created in 1904 and became an instant hit following its initial sales in 1905.[31]
 Saudi Arabia Galaxy bar GlaxayME.jpg 94 Galaxy caramel bars are the top-sold candy in Saudi Arabia. The bars are milk chocolate with a caramel filling, and are made by Mars Inc. This same candy is known as Dove in the United States.
 Israel Elite Elite-Pesek-Zman-Split.jpg 93 Elite candy is manufactured by the Strauss Group and includes a variety of different types of candies.
 Argentina TopLine gum 124 TopLine gum is manufactured by a company by the name of Arcor, which was started in 1951.[40]
 Chile Ambrosoli Honees-Regular&Milk-Drops.jpg 102 Ambrosoli is the largest candy manufacturer in Chile. The company produces a wide variety of candies, including jelly and hard candy.[41]
 Colombia Jet 47 Jet chocolate bars are produced by Compania Nacional de Chocolates. The candy was first manufactured in the 1960s.
 South Africa Beacon Sweets and Chocolates 69 Candy manufactured by the Beacon Sweets and Chocolates company is the top-selling candy in South Africa. They produce a wide variety of candies, including gummies, jelly candy, chocolate, and more.
 Australia Cadbury's Dairy Milk Cadbury Dairy Milk 2006.jpg 197 Cadbury's Dairy Milk is a chocolate bar that brags to have a glass and a half of milk in every bar. This chocolate treat was created in 1904 and became an instant hit following its initial sales in 1905.[31]

Because each culture varies in how it treats some foods, a food may be a candy in one place and a dessert in another. For example, in Western countries, baklava is served on a plate and eaten with a fork as a dessert, but in the Middle East, Northern Africa, and Eastern Europe, it is treated as a candy.[3]

See also


  1. ^ "Candy". Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2014-02-01. 
  2. ^ "Candy". Merriam–Webster. 
  3. ^ a b Richardson, Tim H. (2002). Sweets: A History of Candy. Bloomsbury USA. pp. 53–54. ISBN 1-58234-229-6. 
  4. ^ a b Louise Lucas (November 11, 2011). "No humbug in the nostalgia sweet market". The Financial Times. 
  5. ^ "Confectionery Trends in the United States". Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c Toussaint-Samat, Maguelonne (2009). A History of Food. New Jersey: Wiley-Blackwell. 
  7. ^ Harper, Douglas. "candy". Online Etymology Dictionary. 
  8. ^ "Sugarcane: Saccharum Offcinarum". USAID, Govt of United States. 2006. p. 1 (Chapter 7). 
  9. ^ a b Woloson, Wendy. "The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 18 March 2012. 
  10. ^ Woloson, Wendy (2002). Refined Tastes. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. 
  11. ^ a b c McWilliams, Margaret (2007). Nutrition and Dietetics' 2007 Edition. Rex Bookstore, Inc. pp. 177–184. ISBN 978-971-23-4738-2. 
  12. ^ The Cold Water Candy Test, Exploratorium; Sugar Syrup Chart at Baking911
  13. ^ Will These Bones Live? Yechezkel 37:3. Retrieved on November 2, 2011.
  14. ^ a b The Shelf Life of Candy from The Candy Crate
  15. ^ Dental caries[dead link]. National Confectioners Association
  16. ^ "Does Sugar Cause Tooth Decay? Not exactly...". 
  17. ^ Balkau et al. (1998) "High blood glucose concentration is a risk factor for mortality in middle-aged nondiabetic men. 20-year follow-up in the Whitehall Study, the Paris Prospective Study, and the Helsinki Policemen Study." Diabetes Care 1998 Mar;21(3):360-7
  18. ^ Viegas, Jennifer. "Candy Canes Fight Germs, Settle Stomachs". Retrieved March 14, 2012. [dead link]
  19. ^ Scholey, Andrew. "Chewing Gum Found to Increase Brain Power". Retrieved March 20, 2012. 
  20. ^ Mondestin, Angely. "Chocolate? As a Health Benefit?". Retrieved March 14, 2012. 
  21. ^ Paffenbarger, Ralph. "Life Is Sweet: Candy Consumption and Longevity". Retrieved March 15, 2012. 
  22. ^ US Compliance with Lead Standards in Candy SGS SafeGuard Bulletin, Retrieved 09/20/2012
  23. ^ a b Roach, Mary (26 March 2013). "Mary Roach on Studying How Humans Chew and Eat". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 March 2013. 
  24. ^ Seidel JS, Gausche-Hill M (November 2002). "Lychee-flavored gel candies: a potentially lethal snack for infants and children". Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 156 (11): 1120–2. doi:10.1001/archpedi.156.11.1120. PMID 12413340. 
  25. ^ Old Candy Wrappers. Wholesale Candy Store. Retrieved on November 2, 2011.
  26. ^ "Trends in Food Packaging Technology". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 1 (16): 978–986. October 1953. 
  27. ^ a b Kawash, Samira (September 2012). "The Candy Prophylactic: Danger, Disease, and Children's Candy around 1916". The Journal of American Culture 33 (3). 
  28. ^ Deprez, Esme. "The World's Best-Selling Candies". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved March 18, 2012. 
  29. ^ "M&M's History". Mars, Incorporated. Retrieved March 18, 2012. [dead link]
  30. ^ Arndt, Michael. "America's 25 Favorite Candies". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved March 18, 2012. 
  31. ^ a b c "About Chocolate". Cadbury. Retrieved March 18, 2012. 
  32. ^ "Brands-M". Kraft Foods Inc. Retrieved March 18, 2012. [dead link]
  33. ^ "Hollywood". Cadbury Inc. Retrieved March 18, 2012. [dead link]
  34. ^ McDonnel-Perry, Amelia. "Vivident Gum's Man Boobs & Marionettes". The Frisky. Retrieved March 18, 2012. 
  35. ^ "Orbit". Wrigley. Retrieved March 18, 2012. 
  36. ^ "Largest Brands". Kraft Foods Inc. Retrieved March 18, 2012. 
  37. ^ "Orion". Nestle. Retrieved March 18, 2012. [dead link]
  38. ^ "Hsu Fu Chi International Ltd.". Hsu Fu Chi Inc. Retrieved March 18, 2012. 
  39. ^ "Meiji Seika Kaisha Ltd.". Funding Universe. Retrieved March 18, 2012. 
  40. ^ "All About Arcor". Arcor. Retrieved March 18, 2012. 
  41. ^ "Chile's Ambrosoli pursues niche in global markets". Candy Industry. February 1, 1994. Retrieved March 18, 2012. [dead link]

External links