Extreme Candy

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

extreme candy describes overwhelmingly hot or sour candies marketed to consumers with an underlying dare: “This product may be too much for you to handle.”

The Ferrara Candy Company is responsible for three classic early examples of extreme candies that are considered tame by today’s standards. In the 1930s Ferrara introduced Red Hots (originally “Cinnamon Imperials”), small red cinnamon candies made by cold panning. See panning. The far spicier Atomic Fireballs followed in 1954—individually wrapped red jawbreakers that start out mild and quickly become hot and cinnamony thanks to cinnamaldehyde (the active ingredient in cinnamon) and capsaicin (a compound found in hot peppers). And in 1962 Ferrara introduced Lemonheads, hard lemon candies coated in sour sugar.