Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

bonbons, or bon-bons, are small candies. The name is French, a duplication of the word bon, meaning “good.” Spanish uses bombon and Portuguese, bombom.

The term “bonbon” originated at the French royal court in the seventeenth century. The earliest bonbons may have been seventeenth-century Jordan (sugar-coated) almonds and small candies based on fruits. By the eighteenth century, the use of the term “bonbon” had spread to other European countries. Bonbonnières or drageoirs, ornate boxes or dishes for serving the morsels made of porcelain, glass, or metal, began to appear in Europe by mid-century. See serving pieces. At first they came in pairs. In France, a particularly popular bonbonnière was in the form of a pair of fancy shoes. Bonbons would be presented as gifts in such containers on holidays and at festivals, particularly on New Year’s Day.