It seems that as the holidays approach, the holidays involving sweets are also happening. Today is National Candy Day in the United States and there’s no reason why we can’t celebrate, even just a little bit. If it appears that I’m always writing about food holidays, yes, I am but I am endeavoring to write about other topics as well. That’s a promise. It’s just that this upcoming election has me in knots.
Where did candy come from? In the late 13th century, the word candy came into use. The origin of the word came from the Old French cucre candi, which was derived from the Persian qandi, or cane sugar. Sugar was a prime commodity and prior to its production, sweets were made from honey. The creation of candy began as a form of medicine, most likely in the form of lozenges, where spices and aromatics were added, to soothe a sore throat or calm the stomach.
Candy came to the United States in the 18th century via Britain and France. Sugar was crystallized into what we still call as rock candy. Because sugar was very expensive, it was only available to the rich. In such households, the lady of the house keeps the sugar, which came in the form of a sugar loaf (which actually looked like a cone – go figure), under lock and key. One has to use a sugar ax to break it up and sugar nips (pincers with sharp blades) to break it into usable pieces. I suppose if they still had to grind it if they wanted to use it in baking. Luckily, by the 1970s, granulated sugar became mass produced and can be found everywhere and for cheap. Aren’t you glad you’re living in the 21st century?
Aside from the production of candy’s obvious ingredient, certain advances in technology has made the availability of candy soar. In 1847, the candy press was invented and it made it possible to produce different shapes and sizes of candy at a time. Prior to this, all candy was handmade. In 1851, confectioners began using a revolving steam pan that helps in boiling sugar.
No one really knows who started National Candy Day but I have my suspects. A more interesting question to ask is why? Dedicating a holiday for candy (even if it occurs so close to Halloween) is a way to reminisce on our childhood. As children, a piece of candy is enough to dry tears, face our fears, establish friendships, and enjoy life. If only adulthood was that easy. But on this day, we can hearken back to those carefree days. Nowadays, certain flavors instantly transport me to my childhood and feelings of joy bubble up inside me.
What are some ways that we can share this sugary happiness? We can donate candy to orphanages. We can put out a dish of candy at our work desk. Try candy that you haven’t tried before. Maybe look for specialty candy retailers that have candy from when you were a kid. Amazon.com Grocery and Gourmet Food department has vintage candy from the 1800-1900s and retro candy from each decade afterwards up to the 1990s. If you’re curious about what was the best candy from every decade, take a look at the Parade poll and plug in your vote, too. How about taking a Candy Trivia Quiz? Think you know a lot about candy. Think again as you go through these 27 Sweet Facts about Candy. Tweet the sweet on social media with #NationalCandyDay and live like a kid again, if only for one day.