History of Sweets

Although the concept of sweet treats probably date back to the stone age, The earliest sweet being honey. (Until the 19th century sugar was a luxury and few people could afford it). In the Middle Ages rich people ate desserts like preserved fruits, jelly and dried fruit and wafers made from batter.


The Tudors were also fond of sweet foods (if they could afford them), which they called sweetmeats. The rich ate preserved fruit, gingerbread, sugared almonds and jelly.

Marzipan was introduced into England in the late Middle Ages. It is a paste made of almonds and sugar. The Tudors used marzipan to make edible sculptures of animals, castles, trees and people called subtleties.

Barley Sugar

Furthermore people have eaten barley sugar since the 17th century. In the late 17th century the rich began eating ice cream. Many rich people built special underground chambers in the grounds of their houses for preserving ice during the summer. The ice was covered in straw to preserve it. Then in the late 18th century people began to eat macaroons.

Nougat for the Weary

Furthermore the French have made nougat since the 17th century and caramel was known in England by the 18th century. However before the Industrial Revolution confectionery was hand made and so was very expensive.


The 19th Century

In the 19th century people first began to eat sweets in their modern form. Potato crisps were invented in 1853 and Kendal mint cake was invented in 1869. Turkish delight was invented in 1777 and it became popular in Europe in the 19th century.

Meanwhile as sugar became cheaper during the 19th century new boiled sweets were developed. Other new sweets invented during the 19th century included peanut brittle (1890), candy floss (1897) and liquorice allsorts (1899) (liquorice was originally used as a medicine but Pontefract cakes were invented in the early 17th century and people began to eat it as a sweet.

In Comes Chocolate

Chocolate came from Central America. The Spaniards brought it to Europe in the 16th century and it reached England in the 17th century. The first chocolate bar was made in 1847. Milk chocolate was invented in 1875. Furthermore the first chocolate Easter eggs were made in the 1800s.

Victorian Era

New sweets were invented in Victorian times. Modern marshmallows were invented about 1850. Toffee was also invented in the 19th century (the exact date is not known) and fudge was invented in the the USA in the 1880s.

Gum Anyone?

Moreover people have chewed gum from trees for centuries but chewing gum was first made commercially in 1848.


There's Always Room for Jelly

Jelly babies were invented in 1864 and wine gums were first sold in 1893. Furthermore seaside rock was invented in the late 19th century.

Source: Tim Lambert, A BRIEF HISTORY OF SWEETS