Ever since the dawn of time, man (and woman!) has had a sweet tooth. Some scientists believe that because human breastmilk is sweet, as infants we learn to love that taste first. It means comfort and sustenance to us. Of course, that is one theory 🙂 Our tongues are also designed to taste sweet things first as the sweet taste buds and receptors are on the tip of our tongues.
Whatever the scientific reason, sweet things are yummy! And one of the sweet categories, besides cake and ice cream, that has a fascinating history is candy! The word “candy” is actually from a Indian Sanskirt word meaning “a piece of sugar”.
Candy seems to be everywhere now days, but it wasn’t until the mass production of white, refined sugar that candy began to be widely available. Before that, candy was a treat that was not often enjoyed by our ancestors.
Some of the very first candy-like treats that mankind enjoyed were natural. Items like honey, fig cakes, roasted nuts, carob, dates, licorice and cacao were mankind’s first sweetners.
As refined sugar from the sugarcane plant began to become more widely available through trade and cultivation, the candies that our forefathers enjoyed were still relatively natural. They candied fruit, flowers and nuts, started making syrups, rock candy and stick candy and vanilla began to be used.
By the 1800s, candy was much easier to come by if a little hard still and it was enjoyed by more and more people. Chocolate was introduced though not very popular at the time and artificial flavorings started to be produced.
After that, candy took off and became what we know it today. Everything from gum to candy bars, to caramels and novelty candies arrived. We have a very wide variety of choices now on how to satisfy our sweet tooth! 🙂 If you are interested in learning more about candy’s history and maybe ordering some old-fashioned treats, I highly recommend this online candy store called True Treats!