Historical Overview

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

The history of Japanese confectionery begins with the “cookies” made in the prehistoric Jōmon period (10,000–400 b.c.e.). Walnuts, chestnuts, acorns, and horse chestnuts were important to the diet of the hunter-gatherer Jōmon people. Their “cookie” recipes entailed pounding nuts, kneading in meats, and grilling the confections on hot rocks near fire pits. The Jōmon cookie has disappeared, but the Japanese word for “sweets” (kashi), designating all types of confections today, literally means “nuts and fruits,” which were the only “sweets” available to most of the population until the seventeenth century.