Where do you even start when it comes to candy? As a whole, let’s just say that it is an edible confection made with sugar as the main ingredient.
Interestingly enough, this is such a fun topic because every culture treats it very differently. Candy in the US may be a dessert in another culture and we all view them very, very differently.
Candies are typically smaller in portion size than desserts or cakes and most often, are consumed differently than other sweets. We like to eat them more casually and between meals with our fingers. Imagine having a plate of candy for dessert?
Candies as a whole are thought to be invented by the ancient Egyptians. They had the bright idea to mix honey with fruit and/or nuts. This was back in 2000BC.
The origins of sugar-based candy lie in ancient India and their fields of sugarcane. The word “sugar” is, in fact, derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Khanda” which means “a piece of sugar.” At that time, other cultures were still looking to honey as the base for most candies.
Through the years, it was often considered medicinal and a way to calm the belly or ease the discomfort of a sore throat. They were made with a mixture of sugar and spices and only served to guests at the wealthiest of homes because they were so expensive.
In the early 1800s, as the technological advances grew and sugar became more available (and affordable,) it gained a foothold in everyday life. No only could the average Joe enjoy a bite, but children could walk into a sweets shop and pay for a penny for a sweet treat.
Nowadays you can find a hundred varieties of candy at every grocery store.
Fun facts about candy you might not know:
The people of Sweden consume an average of 35lbs of the stuff per year. The US has an average of 22lbs a year.
Americans purchase nearly 600 million pounds of candy for Halloween and yes, you did read that correctly.
The Snickers candy bar dates back to 1929 and was named after the owner of the company’s horse.
A 1oz piece of milk chocolate and a single cup of decaf coffee contain the same amount of caffeine.
Cocoa butter has a melting point just below that of our own body temp which is why chocolate melts in your mouth.
Its high sugar content prevents bacteria from growing on your sweet treats, but it doesn’t mean they last indefinitely. Each type has its own unique chemical makeup and moisture content which all come into play in terms of shelf life.
Here is a general rule of thumb for a few categories of candy. This assumes that these items are being kept in a cool, dry, and dark place and that they are sealed:
Gum: The experts say you have 6-9 months before it stiffens and goes stale. Gasp!
Gummy Candy: If kept in their original packaging, these can last about a year.
Hard Candy: This one is a bit vaguer. It seems these can go a few years in the right conditions.
Caramel: There is a 6-9 month window to enjoy these.
Milk & White Chocolate: You have about 8-10 months before these start going south.
Dark Chocolate: This will last is a little bit longer than the other two: up to a year or two.
Candy Corn: That candy corn you buy and gorge on for a few weeks will last 3-6 months in a dish or up to 9 months if you keep it sealed.
What are the different types of candies?
There are many different types of candy and that list is much too long to go into. Here is a smattering of the different varieties: