Confectionery is related to food items that are rich in sugar and often referred to as a confection. Confectionery refers to the art of creating sugar based dessert forms, or subtleties (subtlety or sotelty), often with pastillage. From the Old French confection, origin of Latin confectio(n-), from conficere, to "put together". The confectionery industry also includes specialized training schools and extensive historical records. Traditional confectionery goes back to ancient times, and continued to be eaten through the Middle Ages into the modern era. Confections include sweet foods, sweetmeats, digestive aids that are sweet, elaborate creations, and something amusing and frivolous.
Modern usage may include substances rich in artificial sweeteners as well. The words candy (US and Canada), sweets (UK and Ireland), and lollies (Australia and New Zealand) are also used for the extensive variety of confectionery.
Confectioneries are defined by the presence of sweeteners. These are usually sugars, but it is possible to buy sugar-free sweets, such as sugar-free peppermints. Most common is the disaccharide sucrose. Hydrolysis of sucrose gives a mixture called invert sugar, which is sweeter and is also a common ingredient. Finally confectioneries, especially commercial ones, are sweetened by a variety of syrups obtained by hydrolysis of starch, these include corn syrup.
Different dialects of English use regional terms for confections:
- In Britain, Ireland and some Commonwealth countries, sweets or, more colloquially, sweeties (particularly used by children, the Scottish Gaelic word suiteis is a derivative). In some parts of England, spice, joy joy and goodies are terms used, alongside sweets, to denote confectionery. In North West England, especially Lancashire, toffees is often used as a generic term for all confectionery. Northeast England and the Scottish Borders commonly use the words chuggy, chuddy and chowie, as localised terms for chewing gum. In North East England, the word kets is commonly used for confectionery.
- In Australia and New Zealand, lollies.
- In North America, candy, although this term generally refers to a specific range of confectionery and does not include some items called confectionery (e.g. ice cream). Sweet is occasionally used, as well as treat.
Confectionery items include sweets, lollipops, candy bars, chocolate, cotton candy, and other sweet items of snack food. The term does not generally apply to cakes, biscuits, or puddings which require cutlery to consume, although exceptions such as petits fours or meringues exist.
Some of the categories and types of confectionery include the following:
- Caramels: Derived from a mixture of sucrose, glucose syrup, and milk products. The mixture does not crystallize, thus remains tacky.
- Chocolates: Bite-sized confectioneries generally made with chocolate.
- Divinity: A nougat-like confectionery based on egg whites with chopped nuts.
- Dodol: A toffee-like food delicacy popular in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines
- Dragée: Sugar-coated almonds and other types of sugar panned candy.
- Fondant: Prepared from a warm mixture of glucose syrup and sucrose, which is partially crystallized. The fineness of the crystallites results in a creamy texture.
- Fudge: Made by boiling milk and sugar to the soft-ball stage. In the US, it tends to be chocolate-flavored.
- Halvah: Confectionery based on tahini, a paste made from ground sesame seeds.
- Hard sweets: Based on sugars cooked to the hard-crack stage. Examples include suckers (known as boiled sweets in British English), lollipops, jawbreakers (or gobstoppers), lemon drops, peppermint drops and disks, candy canes, rock candy, etc. Also included are types often mixed with nuts such as brittle. Others contain flavorings including coffee such as Kopiko.
- Ice cream: Frozen, flavoured cream, often containing small pieces of chocolate, fruits and/or nuts.
- Jelly candies: Including those based on sugar and starch, pectin, gum, or gelatin such as Turkish delight (lokum), jelly beans, gumdrops, jujubes, gummies, etc. 
- Liquorice: Containing extract of the liquorice root. Chewier and more resilient than gum/gelatin candies, but still designed for swallowing. For example, Liquorice allsorts. Has a similar taste to star anise.
- Marshmallow: "Peeps" (a trade name), circus peanuts, fluffy puff, Jet-Puffed Marshmallows etc.
- Marzipan: An almond-based confection, doughy in consistency, served in several different ways.
- Mithai: A generic term for confectionery in India, typically made from dairy products and/or some form of flour. Sugar or molases are used as sweeteners.
- Tablet: A crumbly milk-based soft and hard candy, based on sugars cooked to the soft-ball stage. Comes in several forms, such as wafers and heart shapes. Not to be confused with tableting, a method of candy production.
- Taffy or chews: A candy that is folded many times above 50 °C, incorporating air bubbles thus reducing its density and making it opaque.
Contaminants and coloring agents as well as toys and other non-nutritive products in confectionery can be particularly harmful to children. This non-nutritive material can cause injury or pose choking hazards. Therefore, confectionery contaminants such as high levels of lead have been restricted to 1 ppm in the US. There is no specific maximum in the EU.
Candy colorants, particularly yellow colorants such as E102 Tartrazine, E104 Quinoline Yellow and E110 Sunset Yellow FCF, do have many restrictions around the world. Tartrazine, for example, can cause allergic and asthmatic reactions and was once banned in Austria, Germany, and Norway. Some countries such as the UK have asked the food industry to phase out the use of these colorants, especially for products marketed to children.
Non-nutritive toy products such as chocolate eggs containing packaging with a toy inside are banned from sale in the US. If the material attached to confectionery does have a function and will not cause any injury to the consumer, it is allowed to be marketed. In the EU however, the Toy Safety Directive 2009/48/EC specifies that toys contained in food only need separate packaging that cannot be swallowed.
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