Home Made vs. Store Bought Candy

October 14, 2009 at 7:14 am 4 comments

It would seem to follow that more expensive candies are better candies. Better ingredients, more care, higher quality, all adds up to higher price.

For candy buyers in the nineteen-teens, worried about food purity and adulteration, expensive candy seemed not only better, but safer. Women’s magazines encouraged housewives to buy only the most expensive sorts of candies for their families. If they couldn’t afford the best, the only safe alternative was to make it at home.

Professional candy makers laughed at the idea. One remarked,

Those who are such fools as to suppose they can turn out kitchen stove candy as good as the cheapest sold by any respectable confectioner are soon undeceived. Candy making calls for skill and experience. It is cheap because it is made in large quantities and by the use of machinery.

Commercial candy had to overcome consumers’ anxieties about new products and new technologies for manufacture. Commercial candy also competed with a nostalgic idea about home made candies. Although candy making was indeed a laborious affair, the work could be made fun, and the product was certainly a pleasure. Taffy pulls, fudge parties, and the like had been popular middle-class entertainments at the turn of the century.

The candy trade hoped Americans would come to see store-bought candy as an everyday food rather than a luxury for holidays and special events. One enterprising candy poet proposed this little scene to illuminate the new world of candy consumption, circa 1916:

“’Lasses Candy”

How ways have changed since dearest Grandma’s time,
’In lots and lots of things,’ she says, ’it’s so.’
When she was young and in her girlhood prime
Store candy was a luxury, you know.

’But,’ she says ’when farmhouse work was done
And company’d come–just country girls and boys–

They’d have a candy pull.’ I’ll bet ’twas fun,
In those old times of simple, homely joys.

What fun ’twould be, if mother’d only leave
Me have a ’candy pull,’ like grandma did.
With boys and girls to come and make believe
That each was just a jolly country kid!

But mother’d say: ‘Who put such notions in your mind?
Don’t let me hear such nonsense anymore.
I guess, when grandma comes to town, she’ll find
Much better ’lasses candy at the store.’

Sources: “Those Silly Sunday Pages,” Confectioners Journal, Feb. 1915, p. 62; “’Lasses Candy,” Confectioners Journal, April 1916, p. 78.

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    4 Comments Add your own

    • 1. Candy Design Guy  |  November 18, 2009 at 2:14 pm

      Candy making is not easy but it can be learned and improved upon.
      Buying candy from new professional and small shops keep the craft alive.

      • 2. CandyProfessor  |  November 18, 2009 at 2:26 pm

        Excellent point. It really is a craft. It is exciting to see what new “artisans” are bringing. We have some wonderful young candy makers here in Brooklyn. I have very fond memories of making lollipops and taffy and horehound with my mother, I’m hoping one day to do the same with my daughter.

    • 3. Candy Cook Books: Where have they Gone? « CandyProfessor  |  November 24, 2009 at 11:21 am

      […] Home Made vs. Store Bought Candy […]

    • […] Home Made vs. Store Bought Candy […]


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    Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure

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