The history of candy -- very short and sweet
There's something so sweet about sweet. The cavemen knew it, and were willing to risk limbs and whatever other body parts weren't covered in hair in order to grab honey from beehives. Over many, many thousands of years, the preferred form of sweet evolved from honey to all kinds of confections, including pot-shaped candy.
Here's a short and sweet history:
1500 BC: The Egyptians invented many kinds of candy, including marshmallows. Taking mallow root found in marshes, they mixed it with nuts and fruit. The standard form of consumption was not charred over a campfire, though, and these were definitely not eaten with chocolate and graham crackers. The Egyptians also invented licorice.
Flickr photo Inventors of marshmallows and licorice.
1502: Christopher Columbus brought a handful of cacao beans back to Spain -- and and the Spanish looked at them, unimpressed. It wasn't until Cortes spent some time with the Aztecs in 1519 that the Spanish realized how delicious the resulting chocolate could be. It quickly spread across Europe, and became the drink of choice at the chic Court of France. But the Mayans had been enjoying it for at least 1,500 years before that; they also used the cacao beans as currency, and crushed it and blended with blood as an offering to the gods.
1730: The steam engine did more than change travel. It made processing chocolate affordable for the masses -- or at least the middle class.
1765 : A chocolate factory opened in New England ten years after the treat was first brought to the United States.
1847: Recipes for coconut, lemon and peppermint hard candies were published in Mrs. Crowen's American Lady's Cookery Book, which also included recipes for candied lemon peels.
1848: John Curtis created the first American packaged gum using spruce sap. Two pieces of the State of Maine Spruce Gum went for a penny. Back then, there was a huge market for candies that cost a penny, which is how the "penny candy" name developed. Chewing tree sap wasn't just an American invention, though; the Greeks, Mayans and early Middle Eastern civilizations all chewed tree resin to freshen their breath. Mmm... piney fresh. It wasn't until the 1880s that chicle, rather than sap, was used as a base for gum.
1880s: The Wunderie Candy Company created candy corn, the king of disappointing Halloween candy.
1896: The Tootsie Roll appeared. But it wasn't until 2009 that it was certified Kosher.
1900: The Hersey's Milk Chocolate Bar was introduced, after Milton Hershey shipped in fancy German equipment that he'd seen at the 1893 World's Colombian Exposition in Chicago.
1908: George Smith put hard candy on a stick, and called it a "Lolly Pop."