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ST. GEORGE- As the exact history of Valentine’s Day is lost in time – it is believed to date back to third century Rome – the confectionery industry has become big business.
According to Statista.com, consumers in the United States spent more than $44 billion on sugary treats in 2021 and will spend an estimated $46.5 billion this year. Taking the rest of the world into account, the total population spent around $205.5 billion in 2021, a figure that is expected to reach $206.75 billion next year.
Although chocolate sales are dominant in its industry, there are plenty of other sweets to excite the taste buds.
A little history of candy
The English word “candy” has been used since the end of the 13th century. It comes from the Arabic “qandi”, which means “made of sugar”.
Honey, candied fruit, nuts and honey were probably the sweets of choice. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Arabs, and Chinese likely used variations of these ingredients to make an early form of candy. And references to the use of honey as a sweetener can be found throughout the Bible.
According to this candy history website, one of the oldest hard candies is barley candy, which was made with barley grains. Hard candies, especially candies like peppermints and lemon candies, began to become popular in the 19th century.
One of the most popular types of confectionery that has stood the test of time is the lollipop – named after a pet horse – which was invented in 1908 by George Smith and is still a go-to option for satisfying candy cravings. .
Susan Benjamin, candy historian, college professor, entrepreneur, author of 10 books, journalist, and West Virginia-based president of True Treats Candy, is keen to focus on the cultural relevance of candy.
“When I first started researching candy, there wasn’t much to do,” Benjamin said. “Candy goes back to the fundamentals…found in different societies.”
For people of a certain age, they will never forget their first bar of Hershey’s chocolate, added Benjamin.
“What happened was that the success of candy was a marriage of marketing and industry starting in the mid-1800s,” she said. “Ultimately, they became an important (commodity) to sell to the untapped market of working-class families.”
While the wealthy could afford high-end candy, it was only at five and ten or general stores that sold “penny” or “2-cent candy” that sales increased and the industry started to take off, Benjamin said.
Modern candy became popular during World War I when the United States Army commissioned a number of American chocolatiers to produce chocolate for distribution to Doughboys fighting in Europe.
When the soldiers returned home – the future of the candy bar was assured – and a new industry was born.
After World War I, as many as 40,000 different candy bars appeared on US store shelves. Many are still sold to this day.
Sweets of yesteryear still there today
This candy was introduced by F. Hoffman & Co. of Chicago in 1928. The candy got its name because its maker found it impossible. to make the chocolate-covered caramels form perfectly round balls, so he called them “duds.”
Leo Hirshfield, the founder of Tootsie Roll Industries, emigrated from Austria and introduced Tootsie Rolls to an enthusiastic public on February 23, 1896, from a small store in Brooklyn.
He named the candy after his daughter, Clara, whose nickname was Tootsie.
It was the first candy to be individually wrapped allowing it to stand out from its competitors. Due to this packaging technique, they did not stick together and saved retailers time and effort in removing them from bulk containers.
The company has grown from a small store in Brooklyn to a multi-million dollar manufacturer with operations in over 75 countries including South and Central America, Europe and Asia.
Some of the company’s other brands include Andes Mints, Dots, Sugar Daddy, Junior Mints, Charms, Charleston Chew, Dubble Bubble, Cella’s Chocolate-Covered Cherries and Blow Pops.
Tootsie Roll Industries has become one of the largest candy manufacturers in the world. As of February 4, 2020, industry analysts valued the company’s net worth at $2.2 billion.
Good and plentiful
Created by the Quaker City Chocolate and Confectionery Company in 1893, Good & Plenty Candy is one of the oldest branded candies in the United States. A second candy – Good & Fruity – a multicolored, multi-flavored candy with a shape similar to Good & Plenty was also produced by the company.
In 1893, Cracker Jack was displayed at the Chicago World’s Fair.
FW Rueckheim and his brother Louis were the first to add peanuts to popcorn. Louis Rueckheim discovered a process that prevented pieces of popcorn covered in molasses from sticking together.
Cracker Jack is named after a salesman who first tried Cracker Jack. When Louis Rueckheim gave the popcorn to the vendor who shouted “Cracker Jack”. The words originally meant awesome or wonderful.
Sales of Cracker Jack continued to grow when it became the snack to eat at a baseball game based on the famous Cracker Jack jingle.
The lyrics were written by Jack Norworth in 1908 while he was on an underground train. Albert Von Tilzer composed the catchy tune that people have been singing ever since.
In 1912, the Cracker Jack Co. began putting “A Price in Every Box”. The awards helped boost sales. Fast forward to over 100 years later, anyone lucky enough to come across an unopened vintage box, the payout could be impressive.
Some of the vintage 1915 Cracker Jack boxes have hidden baseball cards, some worth over $60,000.
Author’s Note: There are so many ins and outs about candy that couldn’t be effectively contained in a reasonably sized story.
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