Hard Candy

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

hard candy is nearly as hard to define as it is to chew. In the United States, the term describes a wide variety of sweets, including drops, fruit lozenges, peppermints, lollipops, sour balls, candy sticks and canes, and rock candy. Familiar American brands like Life Savers, Necco Wafers, Tootsie Pops, Boston Baked Beans, Red Hots, and Lemonheads use hard candy techniques—boiling sugar to the “crack” or “hard crack” stage—to create specialized tastes. See life savers; necco; and stages of sugar syrup. The British-English notion of “boiled sweets” shares some similarities with North American “hard candy”; meanwhile, the Scots refer to “hard boilings,” which include “soor plooms” (sourballs), “fizzy boilings” like sherbet lemons that explode as they dissolve in the mouth, and chalky, crumbly mints called “Berwick cockles” for their rounded shape ribbed with peppermint stripes. See sherbet powder.