A Brief History of Candy

The holidays are made for candy. At least that is the hope of all the candy makers. Believe it or not, the number one holiday for candy isn’t Halloween but Easter. Of course, Christmas and Valentine’s Day are no slouches when it comes to candy. Just where did candy come from?

It Started With Sugar

You can’t have candy without sugar. Back in the ancient day, there were sweet treats made from rolling nuts in honey but what a sticky mess. Around the 4th century, the Persians were out and about looking for places to conquer when they stumbled into India and found the “reeds that produce honey without bees.” That would be sugar cane. The Indians were already boiling sugar, adding flavors and let it harden to become Khanda, which most foodie archeologists call OC or the original candy.

Hello Chocolate

It wasn’t until around the 1500s when Spanish explorers were out and about looking for places to conquer when they stumbled into Mexico and found the cocoa bean. Grind up that bean, cook it up and you’ve got chocolate. Back then, the Mayans were drinking chocolate like it was water. Is it any wonder they got their calendar wrong? They were buzzed from all the chocolate.

When sugar met the cocoa bean is was a brand new ballgame. However, it was only the wealthy who could afford candy treats. In about of counterintuitive thinking, candy was often prescribed as a way of soothing digestive ailments.

Mass Produced

The industrial revolution of the 1800s brought all kinds of advancements to the world. While folks were busying themselves printing stuff and making choo-choo trains go, Joseph Fry was working on the first chocolate bar. This was 1847 and Mr. Fry took the melted chocolate, poured it into a mold and found gold. He was using bittersweet chocolate for his bars. It wasn’t until 1875 when milk chocolate was used for bar making by a guy named Henry Nestle. Yes, that Nestle.

M&Ms made their first appearance on the market in 1941. The original package was a cardboard tube. They switched over to the brown paper bag in 1948. M&Ms Peanuts came along in 1954. Yes, every individual candy has its own origin story as confectioners scrambled to find new ways to spin sugar. Even today, the major players are still rolling out new candy variations. What is your favorite candy?