9 Things You Didn’t Know About Candy

9 Things You Didn’t Know About Candy

How do you make cotton candy and what is the connection between Greek mythology and mints? Arie Letzter, Sugars Technologist at Strauss Group, has 9 facts you never knew about sugar candy. 

The confectionery industry came into the world, grew and developed, and today candies are products we take for granted. But as you can imagine, a lot of knowledge and sweat were invested to make candies what they are today. What evolution did candies undergo? Here are some interesting anecdotes about the history of candy.

The prehistoric man ate candy too

The initial idea of  processing candies was implemented by the prehistoric man, the cave man, who gathered honey from beehives. In ancient times, the ancient Egyptians, Chinese and various other peoples sweetened their lives with fruits and nuts dipped in honey – a type of candy.   From sugar to “cotton candy”   Cotton candy is attributed to four different Americans who invented this product. The first patent was registered for a production machine in 1899. This was the first machine that melted and swirled the sugar out of holes, using centrifugal force.

A sugar machine came on the market only in 1949. Based on spring mechanisms, it boosted the production capacity. This product is considered very popular among children today.   So how is cotton candy produced? You melt the sugar to a fluid form and then spin the fluid in the machine. Once cooled, the sugar solidifies again, and by using a rotational movement, the center of the machine is filled with thousands of thin sugar fibers wrapped around a stick.

What is the connection between horses and lollypops?

Many stories have been created about the invention of lollypops. In the 19th century, Charles Dickens and other writers described in their stories hard candy on a stick which children loved to lick and bite into. The invention of lollypops is attributed to an American called George Smith, who developed the modern lollypop in 1908. He decided to call his product by the name of his race horse: Lolly Pop. He later registered this name as a brand.   This product was a great success until the Great Depression when Smith stopped producing the lollypops and the name returned to public domain. Over the years, the lollypop industry evolved significantly, and today you can find them in different shapes and types.

Mints: Greek Mythology

Mint has been known since ancient times. The word “mint” originates from the Greek mythology: Hades, god of the underworld, was in a romantic relationship with a nymph called Minthe. The ancient Greeks covered their dead with mint leaves to prevent bad odor, reminiscent of the actions of Hades. Different cultures have used mint for other purposes such as herbs and medicines.

Since the beginning of the 20th century mint was used as a flavoring  in confectionery and toothpastes. In 1912 the famous mint-flavored candy “Lifesaver” was launched in the U.S., and continues to be a top-seller even today. In 1927 mint joined the European confectionery industry, when an Austrian named Edward Haas invented the PEZ candy as an adults’ product.

Marshmallow: from aristocracy to the masses

The ancient Egyptians were the first to enjoy a sticky candy called Honey which was saved for the gods and nobility. The name “marshmallow” contains the mallow plant that grows in the marsh, from which the candy is prepared. The  mallow plant was squeezed and added with nuts and honey.



Gummy bears originate from Germany. A candy manufacturer called Hans Riegel invented this soft candy in 1922, which he named as "dancing bear"


The French were exposed to marshmallow in the middle of the 19th century, when they whipped a mallow root extraction with egg white and sugar, and poured onto molds. Today the mallow root is replaced with gelatin as a whipping agent that makes a stiffer marshmallow, with added starch and glucose syrup that stabilize the product. In 1948 an American named Alex Domeck revolutionized this field when he created patented extruder production of cylinder-shaped marshmallows, and since then marshmallow has become one of the most popular candies in the world.  

The first marshmallow produced in our confectionery factory in Nazareth was prepared on the Mogul line using the casting method onto starch molds. Later we moved to manufacturing marshmallows in a new method that gave the product a melting texture like "cotton wool".      

How were the gummy bears invented?  

Gummy bears originate from Germany. A candy manufacturer called Hans Riegel invented this soft candy in 1922, which he named as "dancing bear", and called his company "HARIBO" (his initials: Hans Riegel Bonn). In the 1980's gummies were produced in new shapes such as Trolley, "worms" and other Walt Disney movie characters.  

Mediterranean candy: Turkish Delight  

Turkish Delight is a soft candy. The original candy contains starch, sugar and other ingredients. It is common throughout the Middle East. Turkish Delight is typically flavored with rose water or lemon, coated in sugar powder and cut into small cubes. Rose water "paints" the candy in pink. Some recipes also include nuts or pistachios. Its English name, Turkish Delight, derives from its Turkish origin. This candy was one of the leading products manufactured on the soft candy line at our confectionery factory in Nazareth.  

Toffee: from caramel to fruity flavors  

There are several theories regarding the source of the name "toffee". One claims that toffee in the Creole language is a mixture of sugar and molasses. Another claims that it originates from the West Indies and that the name "toffee" derives from Tafia- a type of rum made from molasses and added as an aroma to candies. Another acceptable version relates to distorting the name "tuffy" or "toughy" which refers to the word "toughness, describing the hardness and strength of the product.  

English toffee should mentioned here. The history of toffee (or in its other name, soft caramel) is associated with an English factory in Halifax established by the Macintosh family in 1890, and they merit the right of pioneers with a candy called "English toffee". At the Macintosh factory they developed and upgraded the toffee candy. It became more chewy, soft and took on a delicious caramel flavor because of the added butter. The original toffee also contained chopped almonds.  

The toffee candy manufactured in our confectionery factory in Nazareth is not "toffee" by its English definition, but belongs to its second category defined as "fruit chews" in fruity flavors.      

Candy bracelet 

Most of us remember the compressed candy sold in kiosks when they were strung on a thin wire and we could rip them one by one. Compressed candies are a product borrowed from the pharmaceutical industry. By the end of the 19th century, a new technology was developed to address products with uniform pharmacological and functional composition. It took someone with a vision and initiative to say that without pharmaceutical additives he could sell the product as special candy, and the rest is history.