Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

sprinkles, to state the obvious before getting into the curious, suggests the act of scattering or dispersing, and yet when used in confectionery parlance the term is actually quite broad. Decorative sprinkles can refer to sanding sugar, slightly coarser than table sugar, whose clear, multicolored crystals lend sparkle to cookies or pastries. It might also reference French decoratifs called nonpareils (“without equal”), tiny balls made of sugar and starch that provide flourish to elaborate desserts, or dragées, the inedible spheres of sugar with metallic outer shells used primarily for the formal adornment of wedding cakes. But, most commonly, sprinkles are the cylindrical bits of candy toppings that add color and texture to a range of sweets, generally requiring frosting, ice cream, or other surfaces onto which to adhere. See ice cream and icing.