In case you didn’t know, candy is the best thing in the world. In years to come, when humans fly around on robot hovercrafts they will look back at our time and achievements and see one above all else: the invention of teeth-rotting, stomach-ache-creating, oh-so-perfect candy.
I love candy. Chances are you love candy. If you don’t, then get out. No seriously. This post is not for you.
As for the rest of us, it’s time to take a look at the magic behind everybody’s favorite holiday, Halloween. So rip open a bag of your favorite treats, pull up a chair, and get ready to have a few cavities filled.
[dropcap]The History of Candy, Halloween, and Candy on Halloween[/dropcap]
Where do we start?
[dropcap]Candy[/dropcap] has been around forever. If you’ve ever heard your grand parents talk about candy, you’ve likely thought to yourself how un-candy-like it sounded though. The sugary stuff has an impressive ability to evolve quickly over a short amount of time, especially when introduced to the hyper-industrilization of food manufacturing. So, where did candy where start?
Candy can be traced as far back as primal humans sticking a finger in a bee hive, taking a swipe of honey, and snacking on it. No, this may not sound like candy but it fulfills two parts of what makes candy candy: 1. It’s super sweet, and 2. It’s not good for you. Honey may be good for you, but sticking your hand in a beehive is, well, not. That and there’s a significant amount of conscious effort required to risk pain for a little sweet pleasure. From there, history records ancient Greeks, Chinese, and Romans rolling various nuts, grains, fruits, flowers, and other items in honey to make it sweeter. Again, it may not sound too candy-like in today’s terms. In fact it sounds downright like granola – I dare you to give trick or treaters a handful of almonds covered in honey and see who get’s TPed. But this was the candy of the time.
Then, somewhere along the line, historians like to claim that candy made the jump from a conglomerate of sweet ingredients smashed together, to purposefully created sweet confections. However, the intention wasn’t so sweet. It seems that the first modern candy was merely an attempt to make medicine more enjoyable. Afterall, this is essentially how Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Dr.Pepper, and most other sodas were invented, as cure all elixirs that thanks to time have been recognized merely as junk food, rather than medicine. Many of these earlier candies were specifically created as digestive aides, and were a sweet and spicy mixture of various sweeteners, spices, herbs, and oils. The random amalgamation of ingredients soon became sugar coated pills or syrups (usually bitter). Someone eventually stood up, announced their love of these early tums, and helped turn the world onto candy.
By the 1800s, candy – real candy – had moved past the socioeconomic confines of indentured servitude to the rich, and became a a treat for the masses, mostly kids, and a lot of adults – pretty much everyone. Penny candy came to life in the 1830s, candy presses soon followed in the 1840s, and by the 1850s, sugar cooking methods were perfected. Candy was revolutionized and it was here to stay. And with a plethora of shapes, sizes, and flavors, everyone had their favorite and no one had to share. By the late 1800s and early 1900s, many of our favorite candies today came to into existence.
[dropcap]Halloween[/dropcap], like candy, has been around for a long time, and just like candy, it’s origins are very, very … umm… very different from halloween today. In fact, it was downright ghoulish. Early halloweens, which often coincided with the celebration of the fall harvest, were a chance to reconnect with deceased loved ones – that explains the whole ghost thing – so much so that families often left a chair open for dead relatives during their halloween feast. Of course, the friendly ghosts weren’t the only ones hanging around. It was often thought that evil spirits lingered during this time as well. Not everything was so different. Mumming was often a part of these fall harvest festivals. Certain Christian traditions involved baking cakes for christened souls and wearing masks and costumes to avoid being recognized by lost souls and evil spirits.
Early in American history, Halloween was surprisingly absent. Once Irish and Scottish immigrants began coming to America in the nineteenth century, Halloween began to gain traction and by the early 1900s, it was being celebrated throughout the country. Trick or treating began a few decades later, but when did candy come into the picture?
[dropcap]Candy & Halloween[/dropcap]
A lot of stories point to corporate America for giving us the candy-filled Halloween we all love today – it’s beginning to sound like Valentines day and Christmas in here. It’s not a far leap from handing out cakes and caramel apples to handing out candy either. The original intention behind handing out these gifts of foods, or leaving offerings outside your door, was to ward off evil spirits. Today candy helps fight off rogue kids out to TP a house or two.
No matter your favorite candy, chances are it’s a lot older than you think. Just how much older? Let’s take a look:
What’s your favorite candy? Have you ever tried making candy at home? Tell us all about it in the comments.