Archive for Monday, April 13, 2015

Sweets treats aren’t evil, just overly indulged

April 13, 2015

Yes, I’ll admit it – I am a candy lover. I really don’t care whether it’s chocolate, caramel, peppermint or any other variety, as long as it’s, sweet it’s fine with me. And, no I don’t have a favorite; I’ll eat and enjoy any candy.

Now, I know that candy has lost a bit of popularity since it has become one of the “whipping boys” for those who are campaigning against obesity. I even saw a recent “helpful suggestion” that recommended preparing Easter baskets without candy. It is hard to imagine an Easter without a chocolate covered marshmallow rabbit, candy eggs or jelly beans.

Of course, I am aware that candy has calories, but enjoying a bit of sweetness in moderation is fine in my book. Candy isn’t the only reason for juvenile or adult obesity. Lack of exercise and overeating seem to me to be bigger factors.

Even back in the ancient days of my youth, I remember being warned not to eat too much candy. I don’t recall being told it would make me fat – I was warned that it would cut down on my conditioning and hurt me in my feeble attempts at sports.

I started to do a bit of research on the history of candy and discovered that it can be traced to ancient societies. It seems that candy was around at least 4,000 years ago. The tombs of ancient Egyptian kings contained the ingredients and instructions for making a form of candy including seeds, honey and sweet herbs. Down through the ages, candy was a real treat and was quite expensive.

For centuries honey was the basic ingredient for candy-like treats. One source said that it even had medicinal use. The ancient Romans used honey to disguise the vile taste of some medicines. Of course we have no idea of the identity of the first cave man who discovered the sweet taste of honey or who first combined seeds and honey to create candy.

We do know that Alexander the Great discovered a Persian concoction that included spices, honey and sweet plants called “kand,” and it is thought that became the root of the word “candy.”

By the 19th century candy or sweet treats became popular in Europe and the United States. Only the rich enjoyed the delicacy since sugar was extremely expensive. I’ve read a number of stories about pioneer life, and about the only time kids got candy was at Christmas or on very special occasions.

When people discovered the art of refining sugar from sugar cane, candy became extremely popular. Actually, refining sugar dates back to ancient China in the 7th century. The process was improved by the Egyptians, and in the 13th century, Venice became the candy capital of the world when they dramatically improved the process of refining sugar.

It took a while before those who loved sweets recognized chocolate as being very important to the art of making delicious treats. As is always the case, technology took over and machines to mass produce candy appeared in the 19th century. That plus nifty marketing started the candy boom.

I found that the popular candy bar made its appearance in 1911 and was a big hit. Interestingly, the candy bar was first test marketed at baseball games. Sales boomed after the end of World War I only to tumble during the Depression.

Christmas is the biggest season for candy sales, followed closely by Valentine’s Day. Candy has survived blame for juvenile tooth decay and is now being attacked as a cause of obesity, yet it remains a forbidden pleasure for million. Yes, I still love candy but in moderation. In my opinion an occasional mini-bar is still a worthwhile reward.

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