Who Invented the First Candy (Invention Timeline Explained)

Eating candy makes you feel good, and it can even prod you to smile. The sugar treat often brings happy memories. It can help you settle down, and give you a boost if your energy goes down. Candy production has a very long history, as it started with the honey-based sweet treats the ancient Egyptians used to prepare as celebratory offerings to their gods. The Mayas and the Aztecs were the first civilizations to use cacao beans in food and beverage. You can find out more fascinating things about candies when you scroll down. 

Who invented the first candy?

According to old manuscripts, the ancient Egyptians used honey to make candy around 1500 BC. They added spices, dates, nuts, and figs for their candy. There are also other records saying that cavemen were the first to come up with the idea of candy by eating honey and honey combs. 

Candy’s key contributors (and evolution)

  • Indians
    First sugar candy

    After the ancient Egyptians and other civilizations used honey for their sweets, the Indians produced the first sugar candy, Khanda. India was the first sugar producer since the first century BCE. They invented sugar candy in 250 AD. They learned the technique to extract the juice from sugarcane and discovered the method to make brown sugar. 

  • Frederick the Great
    Sugar beets

    In 1747, German chemist Andreas Marggraf isolated sugar from sugar beets, similar to cane sugar. Prussia’s King Frederick the Great subsidized experiments to extract sugar from beetroots. He later established a factory for it. By the 19th century, beetroot sugar was introduced to the candy industry in various countries, including the U.S. and England.

  • England and America
    Candies became accessible to the masses

    Sugar availability in England and America created a market for boiled sugar candies mixed with nuts and fruits. In the 1800s, 380 candy factories were established in the U.S. as candy production became easier because of candy-producing machines. Many factories produced individual hard candies that were sold loose, making candies available to more consumers.

  • Joseph Fry, David Peter, Henry Nestle, etc.
    Cocoa and penny candy

    Chocolate was mass-produced for the candy industry in the mid-19th century. Sugar production increased, and chocolatiers started making chocolate candies. Joseph Fry introduced the first chocolate candy bar. David Peter and Henry Nestle invented milk chocolate. Penny candies (cheap candies) invaded the market, making candies available to more consumers, particularly the working class children.

  • Various candy manufacturers
    Modern candies

    Several individuals and companies came out with more products. George Smith invented the Lolly Pop. Hershey’s launched Kisses. Peanut Butter Cup debuted in 1922 before the launch of Milky Way Candy Bar (1923) and Snickers Bar (1930). Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup became an instant hit. By 1991, it was a best seller worldwide.

When was the first candy invented?

The first candy, based on historical records, was around 1500 BC during the time of the ancient Egyptians. According to the ancient manuscripts, the candies were used for religious services initially.

A brief history of candies

Historians believed the ancient Egyptians were the first to make candies, using honey as a base and adding nuts, figs, spices, and dates around 2000 BC. History also recorded that ancient civilizations such as Maya and Aztec used cacao beans for food and drinks. In contrast, Greeks and Romans used honey to sweeten or preserve fruits and edible flowers.

So many things have happened since the time of the ancient Egyptians. There are records of candies made in other countries, such as the Middle East, China, India, and various places in Europe, having their versions of sweets using multiple ingredients. Egyptians created date candies from honey, dates, cinnamon, nuts, and rolled in ground almonds. India contributed sugar to the industry. They also invented the first sugar candy. Chinese royalty enjoyed a special candy called Dragon’s Beard, and the Arabs invented caramel.

Mass-produced candies originated in the 19th century, which saw the production of lemon drops, peppermint candies, Turkish delights, and marshmallows. The century likewise saw the mass production of chocolate.

Several individuals invented candies that started many companies to make their unique recipes. For example, Joseph Fry created Fry’s Chocolate Cream, the first chocolate candy bar to use industrialized chocolate, in 1847. He discovered a way to make a paste from cocoa, sugar, and cocoa powder, which he pressed into a mold. But his chocolate bar and the one created by John Cadbury two years later had a bittersweet taste.

The milk chocolate invention of Daniel Peter and Henry Nestle made chocolate more palatable. The Peter-Nestle creation made a significant contribution to the industry. On the other hand, Rodolphe Lindt further improved the recipe by adding cocoa butter.

Candy-making machines came from inventors from different countries. Notable was the chocolate-making machine Germany displayed at the Chicago World Fair in 1893, which Milton S. Hershey promptly bought. Gregory Keller invented an automatic candy cane machine in 1950.

Special mention should be given to cotton candy, as it is unique. William Morrison and John C. Wharton invented the first electrical cotton candy machine in 1897, while Gold Metal Products introduced a machine with a spring base in 1949. Finally, in 1972 a machine to automate the cotton making and packaging processes appeared on the market.

The beginning of modern candies started in the 16th century. By the 19th century, candy manufacturing had grown tremendously, becoming a high-revenue industry worldwide.

Candy’s timeline

  1. 1800s
    Candy bars, chewing gums, and more

    This period saw the creation of the modern candy bar by Joseph Fry. In addition, John Curtis created the first branded chewing gum from tree sap he called The State of Maine Spruce Gum. The period also saw the introduction of candy corn, Good & Plenty, Juicy Fruits Chewing Gum, and Tootsie Rolls.

  2. 1900s
    Chocolate bars, peppermint sticks, peanut butter candies, Kisses, Chiclets

    Hershey’s introduced the Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar, Kisses, and Milk Chocolate Bar with Almonds. Cousins Theodore Tobler and Emil Baumann invented Toblerone, while the American Chiclet Company released Chiclets. Emil Brack formed Brach’s Candy, while the New England Confectionary Company introduced NECCO Wafers and Peach Blossoms. King Leo launched the pure peppermint stick.

  3. 1910s
    New companies, new candies

    Frank and Ethel Mars formed a candy company, which later became Mars, Inc., one of the world’s largest private candy companies. The period saw the launch of peppermint-flavored Life Savers, Whitman’s Chocolate Sampler Box, Goo Goo Clusters, Mary Janes, Clark Bar, and Claey’s Candy.

  4. 1920s – 1930s
    Chocolate candies, etc.

    Several manufacturers introduced many chocolate candies during these decades, such as Baby Ruth, Mounds Chocolate Bar, Milky Way Candy, Mr. Goodbar, Snickers Bar, 3 Musketeers, Krackel Bar, Hershey’s Miniatures, and Giants. Then, in 1939, Blommer Chocolate Company debuted. The Chicago-based company is North America’s largest chocolate-ingredient supplier.

  5. 1980s
    Novel candies, new flavors

    The first gummi bears and gummi worms made in the U.S. came from the Herman Goelitz Company. M&M boarded the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1981. In the same year, the company launched Skittles Bite Size Candies. In 1983, Nerds was launched, while in 1989, Hershey’s introduced the Symphony Bar.

Where was the first candy invented?

The first candies were made in ancient Egypt. Candies back then were produced from honey flavored with nuts, fruits, and spices. 

Why people love candies

  • Makes you feel good

    People typically associate candy with positive things like family, friendship, love, comfort, and joy. This is because eating candy releases the brain’s ”feel good” chemicals that bring a moment of happiness.

  • It tastes good

    Candies come in bright colors, various shapes, sizes, and flavors. Their appearance looks like they are meant to be enjoyed. People do enjoy eating candy, which brings out their tendency to smile.

  • It is available everywhere

    Candy is very accessible because you can find it anywhere you go. Moreover, candy is affordable. You can take sweets with you wherever you go because they do not take up too much space in your bag or pocket.

  • Candies are comfort foods

    Some people find comfort when they eat candies. For some people, it can be a special treat to enjoy on specific occasions. If you are feeling down, having candy can be very comforting.

  • Willpower booster

    The sugar from the candies can restore your willpower. Sugar gives you more energy and helps you focus when you are tired. It gives you the boost you need when pulling an all-nighter, finishing a project, or studying for an exam.

Candies by the numbers

  • 7Americans spend $7 million each year on chocolate candies alone.
  • 22The average American can consume 22 pounds (9.97 kilos) of candy annually. Overseas, Germany has the most number of people who consume candies regularly. But the Swedes topped them, because each Swede can consume an average of 17 kilos each year.
  • 48.06Candy brand Snickers had 48.06 million consumers in 2020, making it the most popular and consumed type of candy in the United States. 
  • 52Around 52 percent of adults in the United States like chocolate. Americans over 18 consume 65 percent of the candies produced annually.
  • 400In the middle of the 1800s, there were 400 candy factories in the U.S. as the price of sugar manufacturing became much lower. Today, more than 1,600 candy factories operate in the U.S., employing 24, 436 workers. However, only 420 of them manufacture non-chocolate candies. 

Five facts about candies

  • Origin of the term

    “Candy” came from the Middle English word candi, which came from the Arabic word qandi. Qandi means “consisting of sugar lumps.” According to linguists, it is related to khanda, an ancient Indian word.

  • Historical practice

    The practice of trick-or-treating has a long history. It started on the All Souls Day observance in 1000 AD. At that time, low-income families began to visit the homes of the wealthy to ask for food. In return, they said prayers for the dead.

  • Medicinal purposes

    According to historians, the earliest sugar-based candies were made for medicinal purposes. Most medicines in the past tasted bitter. So, pharmacists added sugar to digestive aids and lozenges to mask the bitter taste. For example, ancient people drank bitter herbal concoctions in China and Korea as medicine. Nobles had sugar lumps afterward to remove the bitter aftertaste.

  • First chocolate candy bar

    The first chocolate candy bar in the world was made in 1893. It was invented by a chocolatier in Boston who entered his creation at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

  • Only on Saturdays

    The Swedes are known to be candy lovers. But the Swedish Medical Board only allows people to eat as many candies as they can on Saturdays (Lördagsgodis=Saturday Sweets). The practice stemmed from a controversial experiment in the 1950s where dentists used the patients at the Vipeholm Mental Hospital to find the connection between dental health and sugar.

FAQs about candies

  • Why do you feel happy when eating candies?

     When you eat sweets, the sugar enters the bloodstream from the stomach quickly. It reaches the brain immediately. The brain uses 50 percent of the body’s sugar energy. Sugar releases dopamine, an essential neurotransmitter that helps control people’s emotional responses. Sugar likewise releases other natural chemicals in the body, making people feel a surge of pleasure.

  • What is the oldest candy bar?

     One of the oldest candy bars is Fry’s Chocolate Dream. It was the first candy bar that used industrialized or processed chocolate. The candy had a fondant center and was coated with plain chocolate. The Fry’s chocolate factory is now called Cadbury’s.  

  • Who invented milk chocolate?

     In 1875, Swiss confectioner Daniel Peter developed the first solid milk chocolates, using condensed milk that his neighbor, Henri Nestle, invented. Nestle and Peter were neighbors in Vevey, Switzerland. They manufactured ”Gala Peter,” the oldest candy bar with milk chocolate. The term Gala came from the Greek word meaning ”from the milk.”

  • What is Dragon’s Beard?

     Dragon’s Beard is a traditional confectionery made in China during the Han Dynasty. Dragon’s Beard looks like cotton candy but with low sugar content. The candy came about after a chef tried to entertain the emperor by stretching the rice flour dough-like mixture multiple times. Only the ruling classes had access to Dragon’s Beard. 

  • When did the mass production of candies start?

     Candies started getting mass-produced in the 19th century. Most are boiled sweets, or what people call today hard candy. Other candy items made during the 19th century were lemon drops, peppermint candies, Turkish delights (Lokum), and marshmallows. 

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