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delicacies or sweetmeats that have sugar as a principal ingredient, combined with coloring matter and flavoring and often with fruit or nuts. In the United States it is usually called candy, in Great Britain, sweets or boiled sweets. Nonchocolate candy is roughly divided into two classes, hard and soft; the distinction is based on the fact that sugar when boiled passes through definite stages during the process of crystallization. Fondant, or sugar cooked to the soft stage, is the basis of most fancy candies, such as chocolate creams.

Sweetmeats, long known in the Middle East and Asia and to the ancient Egyptians, were at first preserved or candied fruits, probably made with honey. One of the earliest functions of candy was to disguise unpleasant medicine, and prior to the 14th cent. confections were sold chiefly by physicians. Medieval physicians often used for this purpose sugarplate, a sweetmeat made of gum dragon, white sugar, and rosewater, beaten into a paste. One of the earliest confections still surviving is marzipan, known throughout Europe; it is made of almonds or other nuts, pounded to a paste and blended with sugar and white of egg. In the Middle Ages it was sometimes molded into fancy shapes and stamped with epigrams.

Sugarplums, made of boiled sugar, were known in England in the 17th cent., but it was not until the 19th cent. that candymaking became extensive. The display of British boiled sweets at the national exhibition of 1851 stimulated manufacture in other countries, especially in France. In the United States in the middle of the 19th cent. about 380 small factories were making lozenges, jujube paste, and stick candy, but most fine candy was imported. With the development of modern machinery and the increasing abundance of sugar, confectionery making became an important industry. In 2001, estimated retail sales of chocolate, other candy, and gum in the United States had reached $24 billion, and more 1,400 new items of candy were introduced.


See P. P. Gott, All about Candy and Chocolate (1958); B. W. Minifie, Chocolate, Cocoa and Confectionery (1970); E. Sullivan, ed., The Complete Book of Candy (1981); T. Richardson, Sweets (2002).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a food product generally containing a large amount of sugar, having a high caloric content and pleasant taste and smell, and easily assimilated by the body. Ingredients include sugar, syrup, honey, fruits and berries, wheat flour (sometimes oat, soy, corn, or rye flour), milk and butter, fats, starch, cocoa, nuts, eggs, acids, and gelatinizing agents and flavorings which are processed by heat and various mechanical means. The high nutritive value of confectioneries is due to the considerable carbohydrate, fat, and protein content (see Table 1). Many confections are enriched with vitamins.

On the basis of ingredients, methods of production, and final product, confectioneries fall into two main groups: (1) sugar confectionery, including caramels, candies, chocolates, and cocoa, fruit-marmalade sweets, halvah and other Oriental sweets, toffee, and dragée and (2) flour confectionery, including cookies, crackers, galettes, shortbread, wafers, cakes, pastries, and keks (a kind of cake without icing).

Confectioneries preserve their quality for a long period, and for this reason are used as food on trips and hikes and by athletes. There are also dietetic and therapeutic confectioneries, which differ chemically from ordinary confections. In diabetic sweets, the sugar substances are replaced by sorbitol or xylitol. Sweets for anemic patients are enriched with hematogen, a source of iron and whole protein. For those suffering from goiter and as a food supplement for the elderly, confections are enriched with trace elements and Laminaria saccharina, a source of iodine and alginic acid. Coffee is excluded from confectionery for children, and the amount of cocoa is kept to a minimum.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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