Humbug (sweet)

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Traditional humbugs
Place of originUnited Kingdom
Main ingredientsSugar
Ingredients generally used
  • Glycerine
  • colour
  • flavouring (usually peppermint)
Mint humbugs

Humbugs are a traditional hard-boiled sweet available in the United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. They are usually flavoured with peppermint[1] and striped in two different colours (often black and white). In Australia, the black-and-white-striped humbugs may be aniseed flavoured. Humbugs may be cylinders with rounded ends wrapped in a twist of cellophane, or more traditionally tetrahedral formed from pinched cylinders with a 90-degree turn between one end and the other (shaped like a pyramid with rounded edges) loose in a bag.[1] Records of humbugs exist from as early as the 1820s, and they are referred to in the 1863 book Sylvia's Lovers as being a food from the North.[2]


A mixture of sugar, glycerine, colour and flavouring is heated to 145 °C (293 °F). This mixture is then poured out, stretched and folded many times. The stripes originate from a smaller piece of coloured mixture which is folded into the main mixture. The mixture is finally rolled into a long, thin cylinder and sliced into segments.[3]


Bulls-eyes in a bag

A similar sweet is "bulls-eye" which has red-and-white or black-and-white stripes. These are peppermint-flavoured and are also known as bullets in the UK as they are similar in size to smoothbore musket balls.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Davidson, Alan; Davidson, Jane; Saberi, Helen (2006). Jaine, Tom (ed.). The Oxford companion to food. OUP Oxford. ISBN 0-19-280681-5.
  2. ^ Ayto, John (1990). The Glutton's Glossary. Routledge. p. 144. ISBN 0-415-02647-4. humbug sweet -bah.
  3. ^ Renton, Alex (10 September 2009). "Humbugs, mints, gums and our Top 20 sweets". The Times. Retrieved 25 January 2011.