Fun Candy Facts

Friday, July 22nd, 2005 by benjamin

Written by Becky Sher
Knight Ridder Tribune

Editors Note: I stumbled across this post on the Tallahassee Democrat and it was posted on 17 July 2005 and find it a must read for candy lovers…

1. When did people first start eating candy?

Well, it all depends on your point of view. Did cavemen eat Twizzlers and Milky Ways? Probably not. But honey, a naturally sweet treat, has been a favorite throughout recorded history and is even mentioned in the Bible. According to the National Confectioners Association, the ancient Egyptians, Arabs and Chinese candied fruits and nuts in honey – making an early form of candy. The Mayans and the Aztecs both prized the cocoa bean, and Mayan texts refer to cacao as the “food of the gods.” In 1519, Spanish explorers in Mexico discovered the cacao tree, and chocolate made its way to Europe. People in England and the American colonies enjoyed boiled sugar candy in the 17th century. Hard candies started to become popular in the 19th century – especially sweets like peppermints and lemon drops.

2. How is candy made?

The specifics are different for each type of candy, but the basic process is the same: Candy is made by dissolving sugar in water. The level of heat determines what kind of candy results. Hot temperatures make hard candy, medium heat will make soft candy and cool temperatures make chewy candy.

3. Candy corn is the signature candy of Halloween. When was it invented?

George Renninger, who worked for the Wunderlee Candy Company, invented candy corn in 1880. In 1900, the Goelitz Candy Company (now Jelly Belly Candy Company) started producing the tricolor confection. Today, the popular candy is produced by machines, instead of by hand as it was in the early days. It is created from the bottom up – first the yellow layer, then orange and then the white tip. This year, more than 35 million pounds of candy corn will be made. That’s almost 9 billion pieces!

4. Which holiday boasts the highest candy sales?
Not surprisingly, Halloween. Easter, Christmas and Valentine’s Day are close behind. According to the National Confectioners Association, 50 percent of kids said chocolate is their favorite treat to receive on Halloween. Twenty-four percent chose nonchocolate candy, and 10 percent picked gum. (Fruit, salty snacks and baked goods like cookies and granola bars were at the bottom of kids’ lists.) Another Halloween fun fact: Ninety percent of parents admit that they sneak goodies from their kids’ trick-or-treat bags.

5. Is there really a National Chocolate-Covered Cherry Day?

Yup. It’s Jan. 3. And there’s a National Licorice Day (April 12), a National Taffy Day (May 23) and a National Toasted Marshmallow Day (Aug. 30). Are these official commemorative days, sanctioned by Congress? Well, no. But who says we shouldn’t celebrate them anyway?

6. How do most kids eat their candy canes?

Believe it or not, there is research on this topic. In a survey conducted by the National Confectioners Association, 54 percent of kids between 6 and 11 said they like to suck a candy cane. Twenty-four percent bite or crunch the candy and 19 percent lick it. (The other 3 percent of kids either didn’t know or answered something else.)

7. When were lollipops invented?

There is some dispute about who exactly invented lollipops as we know them today. George Smith claimed to have invented the candy-on-a-stick idea in 1908 – he thought a stick would make the candy easier to eat. He named his invention after Lolly Pop, a racing horse, and later trademarked the name. Eventually, Smith stopped making the sweets, and “lollipop” became a generic name. Racine Confectioners Machinery Co. claims to have invented the first lollipop machine around the same time Smith was inventing his lollipop. Their machine could make 40 pieces of the candy per minute. Samuel Born also gets credit with having a hand in the development of lollipops – he invented the Born Sucker machine in California in 1916. San Francisco awarded Born the keys to the city to honor his contribution to candy history. Today’s machines can make about 5,900 lollipops in a minute. The Spangler Candy Company, which makes Dum Dum Pops, produces about 8 million of the bite-size sweets each day.

8. How big was the world’s largest lollipop?

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world’s largest lollipop weighed 4,759.1 pounds and was made by Franssons of Sweden for a festival on July 27, 2003.

9. How are marshmallows made?

The ancient Egyptians enjoyed a gooey treat made from the mallow plant – a plant that grows wild in marshes. Later, in the 1800s, European candy makers whipped sap from the mallow root into a fluffy candy. But making the marshmallows by hand was a time-consuming process, so candy makers began to modify the system, replacing mallow root with gelatin. In the mid-20th century, the process was modernized again, and the marshmallow ingredients (mostly corn syrup, starch, sugar and water) were run through tubes and then cut into uniform pieces. After those changes were made, marshmallows became extremely popular in the United States. Today, Americans buy about 90 million pounds of marshmallows each year!

10. While we’re talking about marshmallows, where did s’mores come from?

No one knows for sure, but as far as anyone can tell, the first documented “recipe” for the chocolate, graham cracker and marshmallow treat was in 1927 in the Girl Scout handbook. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, “the largest s’more ever was created on May 23, 2003, from 20,000 toasted marshmallows, 7,000 Hershey’s chocolate bars and 24,000 graham crackers. It weighed an incredible 1,600 pounds!”

11. Was Bazooka bubble gum named after the weapon?

No. The bubble gum and the weapon were both named after a musical instrument created by entertainer Bob Burns in the 1930s. He made it from two gas pipes and a funnel.

12. What happens to swallowed gum?

You may have heard people say that swallowed gum stays in your stomach for seven years. Not quite. According to the health experts at, swallowed gum, like other food, moves through your digestive system. With any luck, it will come out the other end, if you know what we mean. But for kids who swallow a lot – and we mean a lot – of gum, it can cause a blockage in the intestine. So when you’re done with your gum, get rid of it the right way – by spitting it out.

13. Why does chocolate melt in your mouth?

Cocoa butter melts just below body temperature (98.6 degrees). That’s why chocolate melts when you put it in your mouth – and sometimes in your hand!

14. How many conversation hearts are made each year? According to NECCO, which produces Sweethearts conversation hearts, about 8 billion of the candies are made each year. The treats, originally called Motto Hearts, were first created in 1866 by Daniel Chase, brother of NECCO founder Oliver Chase. The company produces about 10 new sayings for the hearts each year. You can have the hearts custom-printed, but you have to be willing to buy an entire production run – that’s 3,500 pounds, or about 1.6 million hearts! Conversation hearts come in six colors: pink, orange, yellow, green, purple and white. And in 1981 Spanish-language candy hearts were introduced. Most popular sayings: “Be Mine,” “True Love,” “Kiss Me.” Retired sayings: “Buzz Off,” “Stop,” “Try Me,” “Bad Boy,” “Hot Stuff,” “Say Yes.” “One I Love” was retired but returned to production in 1997 after an 80-year absence.

15. When did candy bars first become popular?

During World War I, the U.S. Army commissioned several chocolate manufacturers to produce 20- to 40-pound blocks of chocolate. They were shipped to Army quartermaster bases, where they were chopped into smaller pieces and distributed to the troops. (Eventually, the manufacturers began producing smaller pieces.) When the soldiers returned home, they had developed a taste for candy bars, and a new industry was born!

16. Have M&Ms always had an “M” stamped on one side?

No. Even though M&Ms were first manufactured in 1940, the “M” didn’t appear until 1950. And it used to be a black “M,” not white like it is today.

17. Were Hershey’s Kisses produced during World War II?

Since Kisses were created in 1907, production has stopped only once: between 1942 and 1949. During the war, the silver foil used to cover the chocolates was rationed. The equipment normally used to make Hershey’s Kisses was used to temper chocolate paste for military ration candy bars.

18. Which candy has been to the South Pole?

In the 1930s, Admiral Richard Byrd took 2½ tons of NECCO Wafers to the South Pole. That amounted to almost a pound of candy per week for each of the men in his crew during their two-year stay in the Antarctic.

19. Where does the name PEZ come from and what was its first use?
It comes from Pfefferminz, the German word for “peppermint.” (Get it? PfeffErminZ.) Pez started out as an aid to smokers trying to quit. The headless dispenser was made to look like a cigarette lighter. PEZ candy was first sold as a peppermint candy in Vienna, Austria, more than 70 years ago. Today, more than 3 billion fruit-flavored PEZ are eaten each year in the United States alone. Did you know there is a museum devoted to the plastic candy dispensers? The Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia in Burlingame, Calif., has almost every Pez dispenser ever made. And they are all for sale – ranging in price from approximately $2 to $1,300.

20. Which U.S. president was known for his love of jelly beans? Ronald Reagan! During his presidency Jelly Belly beans were served in the Oval Office and on Air Force One. There was even a special holder designed for the plane to keep the beans from spilling during turbulence. And, if that wasn’t enough, the beans blasted into outer space when Reagan sent them on the 1983 flight of the space shuttle Challenger. And while we’re talking about jelly beans, did you know that each year, American manufacturers make more than 16 billion jelly beans for Easter? They would fill a plastic Easter egg 89 feet high and 60 feet wide!

Sources: Association of the Chocolate, Biscuit & Confectionery Industries of the EU; National Confectioners Association; U.S. Commerce Department; Spangler Candy Company; The World Almanac for Kids;;;;;; jellybelly. com

3 Responses to “Fun Candy Facts”

  1. Cheyenne says:

    How did George Smith get the idea to make lollipops?

  2. Anonymous says:

    awsome lollipops

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