Introduction

Appears in

Chocolates and Confections

By Peter Greweling

Published 2007

  • About
The history of American confections follows a route parallel to that of many other traditional foods: born of artisans, adopted by regional producers, and captured by manufacturers. With each step in this process, the products tend to lose a little bit of their identity, becoming less unique, less diverse, more anonymous, and further removed from their artisan and geographic roots. Up until the early twentieth century, artisan foods were made by skilled craftspeople in small family-owned businesses in every town and village, with the trade handed down from generation to generation or learned through apprenticeship. Bread bakers, brewers, cheese makers, and, of course, confectioners produced relatively small quantities of fresh, unique products for their customers, who were also their neighbors. This is the tradition of artisan confectionery. Improvements in automation and transportation led to the rise of regional confectioners who prepared unique specialties in larger quantities with the aid of machinery and who distributed their products throughout a larger area than local artisan confectioners could supply. However, these regional confectioners still made candy that was traditional to the location and distributed it within that area, thereby contributing to the food culture of the region. Some examples of these products are pralines in the southern United States, sponge candy in western New York State, fudge throughout the Midwest, taffy at the seashore, buckeyes in Ohio, and maple candies in New England.