Candy has become such a big part of our everyday life, even as we can say, one of our basic human needs. But have you ever wondered how it all began? Candyroom has a package of sweet sweet facts about candy history, which will make you smile. Are you ready?
The meaning of the word
The English word ”candy” derives from the Arabic word “qandi”, meaning ”made of sugar” and came to use in the 13th century. You might not have given much thought about it, but most of the vocabulary we have for sweets today comes mostly from ancient cultures in Asia, Africa and North and South America.
The first form of sweets
Can you guess what it was? Here’s a little riddle for you:
I’m something that is sticky
I’m something that is sweet
I’m made by more than one bee
I’m something that you eat.
Did you guess it? Right, it’s honey. It was the first sweetener used by ancient people. It was even mentioned more than once in the Bible. Fruits and different types of nuts rolled in honey were the first candy confections. Honey was used in Ancient China, Middle East, Egypt, Greece and the Roman Empire to coat fruits and flowers in order to be created forms of candy or to preserve them. Bonus fact: honey is the only type of food that never expires. When the tomb of Tutankhamun was discovered, there were jars of honey there, still good for eating!
How about chocolate?
The cocoa bean was so prized by the Mayans and the Aztecs, that they even used it as a form of currency. They were the first to drink chocolate, and even the contemporary word for it comes from the Classical Nahuatl word “xocolātl”. It was brought to Europe in 1519 by Spanish explorers in Mexico. This year really changes human history!
Where does sugar come from?
No, not from candy canes, but from nature itself – a plant, called the Sugarcane. It wasn’t until the 6th century B.C. when the Persians found out about India’s “reeds that produce honey without bees” and brought the sugarcane agriculture to Europe.
Candy as a medicine!?
Indeed, before the Industrial Revolution candy was used mainly as a medicine for digestive problems, which were very common due to the constant consumption of spoiled food (they didn’t have refrigerators, after all). Candy was a pleasure that appeared only at the homes of the wealthiest in the Middle Ages, as it was served on banquets for their guests. These “candies”, also called “chamber spice” were made of ginger, berries, aniseed and almonds dipped in melted sugar. Well that’s a medicine one wouldn’t mind taking!
Candy as we know it today
Thanks to the Industrial Revolution, and a wonderful invention called “the candy press” during the first half of the 19th century, they candy business as we know it today started to form. The more mechanised process enabled the production of multiple shapes and sizes of candy at once. Sweets became a pleasure not only for the rich, but for the working class as well. The so called “penny candies” became a symbol of independence for children in America, since they were the first thing they spent their own money on. Spending all your money on candy, that’s the dream…