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Candy, also called sweets or lollies, is a confection that features sugar as a principal ingredient. The category, called sugar confectionery, encompasses any sweet confection, including chocolate, chewing gum, and sugar candy. Vegetables, fruit, or nuts which have been glazed and coated with sugar are said to be candied.
Physically, candy is characterized by the use of a significant amount of sugar, or, in the case of sugar-free candies, by the presence of sugar substitutes. Unlike a cake or loaf of bread that would be shared among many people, candies are usually made in smaller pieces. However, the definition of candy also depends upon how people treat the food. Unlike sweet pastries served for a dessert course at the end of a meal, candies are normally eaten casually, often with the fingers, as a snack between meals. Each culture has its own ideas of what constitutes candy rather than dessert. The same food may be a candy in one culture and a dessert in another.
DEFINITION AND CLASSIFICATION
Candy is a sweet food product.
Sugar candies include hard candies, soft candies, caramels, marshmallows, taffy, and other candies whose principal ingredient is sugar. Commercially, sugar candies are often divided into groups according to the amount of sugar they contain and their chemical structure.
Comparison of sugar candies
Chocolate is sometimes treated as a separate branch of confectionery. In this model, chocolate candies like chocolate candy bars and chocolate truffles are included. Hot chocolate or other cocoa-based drinks are excluded, as is candy made from white chocolate. However, when chocolate is treated as a separate branch, it also includes confections whose classification is otherwise difficult, being neither exactly candies nor exactly baked goods, like chocolate-dipped foods, tarts with chocolate shells, and chocolate-coated cookies.
Comparison of chocolate types
Candies can be classified into noncrystalline and crystalline types. Noncrystalline candies are homogeneous and may be chewy or hard; they include hard candies, caramels, toffees, and nougats. Crystalline candies incorporate small crystals in their structure, are creamy that melt in the mouth or are easily chewed; they include fondant and fudge.
Between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE, the Persians, followed by the Greeks, discovered the people in India and their "reeds that produce honey without bees". They adopted and then spread sugar and sugarcane agriculture. Sugarcane is indigenous to tropical South and Southeast Asia, while the word sugar is derived from the Sanskrit word Sharkara. Pieces of sugar were produced by boiling sugarcane juice in ancient India and consumed as Khanda, dubbed as the original candy.
Before sugar was readily available, candy was based on honey. Honey was used in Ancient China, Middle East, Egypt, Greece and the Roman Empire to coat fruits and flowers to preserve them or to create forms of candy. Candy is still served in this form today, though now it is more typically seen as a type of garnish.
Before the Industrial Revolution, candy was often considered a form of medicine, either used to calm the digestive system or cool a sore throat. In the Middle Ages candy appeared on the tables of only the most wealthy at first. At that time, it began as a combination of spices and sugar that was used as an aid to digestive problems. Digestive problems were very common during this time due to the constant consumption of food that was neither fresh nor well balanced. Banquet hosts would typically serve these types of 'candies' at banquets for their guests. One of these candies, sometimes called chamber spice, was made with cloves, ginger, aniseed, juniper berries, almonds and pine kernels dipped in melted sugar.
The Middle English word candy began to be used in the late 13th century.
The first candy came to America in the early 18th century from Britain and France. Only a few of the early colonists were proficient in sugar work and were able to provide the sugary treats for the very wealthy. Rock candy, made from crystallized sugar, was the simplest form of candy, but even this basic form of sugar was considered a luxury and was only attainable by the rich.
In 1847, the invention of the candy press (also known as a toy machine) made it possible to produce multiple shapes and sizes of candy at once. In 1851, confectioners began to use a revolving steam pan to assist in boiling sugar. This transformation meant that the candy maker was no longer required to continuously stir the boiling sugar. The heat from the surface of the pan was also much more evenly distributed and made it less likely the sugar would burn. These innovations made it possible for only one or two people to successfully run a candy business.
Candy is made by dissolving sugar in water or milk to form a syrup, which is boiled until it reaches the desired concentration or starts to caramelize. Candy comes in a wide variety of textures, from soft and chewy to hard and brittle. The texture of candy depends on the ingredients and the temperatures that the candy is processed at.
The final texture of sugar candy depends primarily on the sugar concentration. As the syrup is heated, it boils, water evaporates, the sugar concentration increases and the boiling point rises. A given temperature corresponds to a particular sugar concentration. These are called sugar stages. In general, higher temperatures and greater sugar concentrations result in hard, brittle candies, and lower temperatures result in softer candies. Once the syrup reaches 171 °C (340 °F) or higher, the sucrose molecules break down into many simpler sugars, creating an amber-coloured substance known as caramel. This should not be confused with caramel candy, although it is the candy's main flavouring.
Most candies are made commercially. The industry relies significantly on trade secret protection, because candy recipes cannot be copyrighted or patented effectively, but are very difficult to duplicate exactly. Seemingly minor differences in the machinery, temperature, or timing of the candy-making process can cause noticeable differences in the final product.
Candy wrapper or sweets wrapper is a common term for this packaging.
Purposes of packaging
Packages are often sealed with a starch-based adhesive derived from tapioca, potato, wheat, sago, or sweet potato. Occasionally, glues are made from the bones and skin of cattle and hogs for a stronger and more flexible product, but this is not as common because of the expense.
Prior to the 1900s, candy was commonly sold unwrapped from carts in the street, where it was exposed to dirt and insects. By 1914, there were some machines to wrap gum and stick candies, but this was not the common practice. After the polio outbreak in 1916, unwrapped candies garnered widespread censure because of the dirt and germs. At the time, only upscale candy stores used glass jars. With advancements in technology, wax paper was adopted, and foil and cellophane were imported from France by DuPont in 1925. Necco packagers were one of the first companies to package without human touch.
Candy packaging played a role in its adoption as the most popular treat given away during trick-or-treating for Halloween in the US. In the 1940s, most treats were homemade. During the 1950s, small, individually wrapped candies were recognized as convenient and inexpensive. By the 1970s, after widely publicized but largely false stories of poisoned candy myths circulating in the popular press, factory-sealed packaging with a recognizable name brand on it became a sign of safety.
Marketing and design
Because of its high sugar concentration, bacteria are not usually able to grow in candy. As a result, the shelf life is longer for candy than for many other foods. Most candies can be safely stored in their original packaging at room temperature in a dry, dark cupboard for months or years. As a rule, the softer the candy or the damper the storage area, the sooner it goes stale.
Shelf life considerations with most candies are focused on appearance, taste, and texture, rather than about the potential for food poisoning. That is, old candy may not look pretty or taste very good, even though it is very unlikely to make the eater sick. Candy can be made unsafe by storing it badly, such as in a wet, mouldy area. Typical recommendations are these:
Even in a culture that eats sweets frequently, candy is not a significant source of nutrition or food energy for most people. The average American eats about 1.1 kg (2.5 pounds) of sugar or similar sweeteners each week, but almost 95% of that sugar—all but about 70 grams (2.5 ounces)—comes from non-candy sources, especially soft drinks and processed foods.
In more recent times, a variety of snack bars have been marketed. These include bars that are intended as meal replacements as well as snack bars that are marketed as having nutritional advantages when compared to candy bars, such as granola bars. However, the actual nutritional value is often not very different from candy bars, except for usually a higher sodium content, and the flavours (most popularly, chocolate, fudge, and caramel) and the presentation mimic candy bars.
Among the Bengali people, candy may be eaten for an entire meal, especially during festivals. Candy may also be offered to vegetarian guests in lieu of fish or meat dishes in India.
Other ingredients commonly found in candy that are not suitable for vegetarian or vegan diets include carmine, a red dye made from cochineal beetles, and confectioner's glaze, which contains shellac, a resin excreted by an insect.
However, frequent consumption of fruits and fruit juice, which contain both acid and sugars, may be a more significant factor in dental decay than candies.
Mint-flavoured gum increases short-term memory, heart rate, and the amount of oxygen in the brain. The correlation between heart rate and oxygen in the brain triggers short-term memory. Chewing gum can also provide a burst of insulin in the anticipation for food.
When eaten in moderation, dark chocolate can have health benefits. The cocoa in chocolate can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and sodium can be found in chocolate, as well as antioxidants.
In a study of approximately 8,000 individuals, candy consumers enjoyed an average of 0.92 years of longer life, with greater consumption of candy not associated with progressively lower mortality. Non-consumers typically ate less red meat and salads, drank more and were more likely to smoke. Mortality was lowest among those consuming candy 1–3 times a month and highest among those consuming candy three or more times a week. The study concluded that one possible explanation for this was the presence of antioxidant phenols in chocolate, but the study could not differentiate between consumption of sugar candy and chocolate in they study.
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.
Global sales of candies were estimated to have been approximately US $118 billion in 2012.
Because each culture varies in how it treats some foods, a food may be a candy in one place and a dessert in another. For example, in Western countries, baklava is served on a plate and eaten with a fork as a dessert, but in the Middle East, Northern Africa, and Eastern Europe, it is treated as a candy.
Candy is the source of several cultural themes:
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