Cover Image: The History of Sweets

The History of Sweets

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Member Reviews

I liked how it deals with the history of sweet but also with issues related to sugar consumption (I'm diabetic and appreciated it).
It's well researched, well written and informative.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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This was a mostly interesting book about the history of sweets- hard candies, licorice, chocolate 
, etc. - and it doesn’t shy away from looking into the less than sweet aspects of candy’s past.  From the slave trade to the poisons added to candies Paul Chrystal does some of his best writing in the sections on the human cost of creating candy. Often the writing in other places was repetitious and that definitely led me to skim some parts, but others were full of new facts and interesting. 

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
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All things sweet. 

Sugar comes in many, many forms. 
And this book contains the history of sweets. There isn't anything sweeter than that. 
Recommend for a delicious and informative look at sugary treats.
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Paul Chrystal’s History of Sweets (Candy to our US cousins) lives up to its name, although the narrative of that history is delivered in a variety of tones. 

Chapter 1 is a brief timeline covering the evolution of sweets from 8000 BC to the late twentieth century. Chapter 2 then revisits the timeline, giving us both more detail about the development of sweets; and definitions of sweets, candy and confectionery.  We also get a very short history of some iconic sweets, including Polos. I’m afraid the author’s reminder that Polo is “The Mint with the Hole” reminded me of when the Royal Mint transferred from London to Llantrisant, which was promptly dubbed “The Hole with the Mint”! 

Chapter 3 is the history of sugar. Although it’s very interesting, it jumps around chronologically. It gives useful quotes and summaries from websites/books. 
Chapter 4 tells us about sweets as medicine. We also get potted histories of pastilles, throat lozenges and quasi-medicinal brands such as Fisherman’s Friends and Victory V. I was saddened to read that the letter no longer contain ether or chloroform, as they did when I was young. Parts of this chapter read like a medical textbook, with words such as hypokalaemia tossed in without explanation. Some stars who endorsed medicinal sweets are described as “Medicated followers of fashion”, at which I nearly cried. Hopefully, the target reader base for this book will also remember the Kinks song.

Chapter 5 is an excellent essay on the cultural aspects of sweets in the early to mid-twentieth century: Rationing, Racism, Smoking Sweets and Women’s Rights. The next chapter covers the even darker topic of Sugar and Slavery. Chrystal doesn’t shy away from pointing out that global companies such as Nestle and Hershey signed the Harkin-Engle Protocol in 2001 but over 1m children are employed in the cocoa trade.

Chapter 7 covers adulteration of food and drink, not just sweets, although there is a case study of the Bradford Humbug Poisoning of 1858, where 20 people died and over 200 became ill because of humbugs accidentally made with arsenic. We then have a chapter on special type of sweets such as liquorice, chewing gum, rock, candy floss, jelly beans, etc.. There are sections on the types of sweet and then on the various firms involved such as Dunhills (now part of Haribo). I never knew that jelly babies had names. Brilliant is the red/strawberry one; Bubbles is the yellow/lemon one; etc.. And when Jelly Babies were eighty years old in 1999, Barnack Confectionery launched a range called Jellyatrics. I loved the way Chrystal slips in one-liners like this here and there.

There are a few chapters on chocolate. These are very well written and cover large and small firms from Mars and Cadbury to W&M Duncan and Co (yes, you have heard of them – they invented the Walnut Whip). I didn’t know that when Mars first set up in the UK, their Mars bars were covered in chocolate supplied by Cadbury. As Sir Adrian Cadbury asked recently, “Why ever did we do that?”. Nor was I aware that Dubai Duty Free sells over 1 tonne of Kitkats a day. Sadly, I bet they don’t at the moment. And no, Toberlone’s shape wasn’t inspired by the Alps. The inventor’s son admits it was inspired by the dancers at the Folies Bergeres, who formed a pyramid at the end of each show. Oh, and the patent for Toblerone was authorised by an official in the Bern Patent Office called Albert Einstein. You may have heard of him after he published the book he was working on in the evenings.

I was aghast to read that in the 1930s, you could buy chocolate containing radium – as Chrystal points out, one of the few products to have a half-life as well as a shelf-life. Although I wonder whether it was worse than the Vita Radium Suppositories you could buy “for restoring sex power”.

It was lovely to be reminded of the advertising jingles like “Murray mints – the too-good-to-hurry mints”. Although Chrystal doesn’t mention the version we schoolkids gleefully sang: “Trebor Mints are a minty bit stronger. Stick them up your b*m and they last a lot longer!”

Another dark chapter covers obesity, diabetes and bad teeth. We then a couple of short chapters on sweets from around the world, balancing out the UK-centricity of the book so far; then a long chapter of potted histories of many UK sweet companies, nearly all of the ones chosen are in the North. The penultimate chapter covers references in music (Brown Sugar, The Candy Man) and literature (Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, Pippi Longstocking), film and TV. The final very short chapter mentions Fairtrade and reminds us about the appalling rewards that cocoa farmers receive.

Overall, a really good book. Although I was initially unsure about the mixture of material, I think the wide-ranging coverage couldn’t have been handled very differently. I wish we’d been told more about Screaming Jelly babies, though. They are the dramatic result of a school experiment when the sweets are immersed in a strong oxidising agent…
#TheHistoryofSweets #NetGalley
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Little did I know the length and breadth of the history behind the chocolates, gummi bears, sugary confections I’ve seen and enjoyed my whole life. Ranging from ancient times to modern, how and where these treats got their start is entertainingly outlined in this book. The author offers a wealth of information in conversational bites that were easy and happily gobbled up. Why our favourite treats came to even exist was sometimes much hard work but also by chance in many cases.

Supported by tasty tidbits, each grouping or specific sweet is given its mouth-watering due.
This book was full of details but laid out in a way that allowed me to set it down and pick it up at my own pace. Spanning the globe, with a U.K.-centric lens, the entire world seems to enjoy these sweet treats as much as I do. And now I know why… A slight warning: ensure you have your favourite chocolate close by as this read will activate your sweet tooth without doubt.
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The History of Sweets by Paul Chrystal is a fun and detailed look at the history of candy and sweets with colorful old advertisements sprinkled all throughout the book. Chrystal did a great job researching not only the history of sweets, but detailing the UK candy manufacturers he writes about.

This book goes into all things confectionery. The chapters include a time line of candy and sweets, sweets in medicine, cultural issues, sugar in slavery, adulteration in confectionery, chocolate history and important families, marketing and advertising, and a look at different manufacturers of notable and not so notable brands. The candies and brands mostly come from Europe and not the U.S. so some of the names were foreign to me, but it was nice to read and learn about different candies from elsewhere.

A great read for anyone looking to know more about sweets.

This book was reviewed for my baking blog.
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The History of Sweets is an interesting and informative layman accessible look at the confectionery industry especially in the UK written by Paul Chrystal. Due out 31st March, 2021 from Pen & Sword Books, it's 144 pages and will be available in paperback format.

This is an engaging look at the history of sweets and the public's buying (and consumption) habits over the last several centuries. The book is absolutely filled with delightful minutiae such as the fact that according to records from 1851 £10 000 was spent on confectionery in London as opposed to the (to me) staggering sum of £19 448 on boiled eels (yikes) that year. The chapters are arranged roughly thematically and chronologically; the earliest history and timelines of sugar production and manufacture through to the modern era. This is a factual based history and doesn't turn away from a critical examination of sugar cultivation and its ties to slavery. Although it's not an academic text and doesn't contain copious chapter notes, it is well researched and meticulously presented.

Possibly the most attractive feature of the book for me personally was the abundance of rare and antique advertising memorabilia which is included reproduced in full colour facsimile. There are also numerous period photographs of sweet shops, schoolboys queueing to buy from their school's "tuck shop", and more modern confectioners and manufacturers. It's worth noting that the emphasis in this book's scope is for the British Isles (and some historical info about the British Empire's association with the manufacture and shipping of raw materials from colonial producers).

The book includes extensive links and a bibliography for further exploration as well as an index.

Five stars. Beautifully researched, well written, and accessible. I recommend it highly to readers of history, cultural studies, consumer studies, and advertising as well as anyone who loves sweets. There are no recipes or recommendations included in the text. I also enjoyed seeing ads for sweets from my long vanished youth as well as perennial favourites still available today.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
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i really enjoyed getting to read this book! it was so precious and cute and fun! i'm so glad netgalley chose me to read this before everyone else. thanks so much netgalley!!
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An interesting book on how sweets came about over the centuries.  Its fun to see when some of my own favourites came into the market.  It gives information not just on the sweets or candies as the Americans say, but also the companies who make them.

There are a number of pictures throughout the book, which are mostly old advertising campaigns rather than the sweets themselves.

I received this book from netgalley in return for a honest review.
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Such an in-depth and interesting read! Way more information than I expected. Some parts were a little heavy for a book about sweets but it’s history and an important thing for us to remember. A good read for anyone interested in history.
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Well. I'm not having much luck with books so far this year. I was definitely hoping to love this much more than I actually did. I'm disappointed because I love sweets and it should have been right up my proverbial alley. I can't quite put my finger on what it was, but perhaps my expectations were more 'light-hearted' and 'chatty' - like a story - rather than what felt more clinical and slightly cold.

What a shame! But it seems that I'm in the minority in that regard and that's okay.
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Insightful. If you are into food, especially food history this is for you. Good to know. many information and stories about sweets, candy. etc. While I was reading this, this book is a good reference for creating digital content, if you are a food blogger.
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I’m interested in both sweets and in the culture of Great Britain so this book was of particular interest to me. This is a surprisingly comprehensive and scholarly approach to a sweet subject. I learned all I’d wish to know and more. Perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth.
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I have a weak spot for books about food, cooking and the history of food.  And being completely honest, I love sweets & candy.     The History of Sweets by Paul Chrystal is a detailed historical accountof the history of sweets, particularly in the UK.   Chrystal lays out how a good number of sweets started out as medicine of some sort.   Many sweet-precursors were used to treat anything from upset stomach to a sore throat.   Apothecaries were some of the first candy makers.    Chrystal also discusses the history of various sweet makers in the UK, including popular brands like Cadbury.   There were a good number of colored photos and illustrations included with the text as well.
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A very, very, very thorough history of the history of all things "sweets": candy and chocolate.

The book is focused on Britain but does cover the whole history of "sweets."  He describes the antecedents for candy and the earliest "sweets" used for medicinal purposes.  He explores how the various forms of candy developed.  He then surveys the history of the development of chocolate from beverage to "health food" to its present forms.  

A lot of the book explores the major corporations involved in the "sweets" business in Britain, their origins, and who ended up buying or getting bought by whom.  The use of "sweets" in literature, music, and film is explored, as well as famous quotations about sweets.  

One can tell the author is very passionate about the history of sweets - perhaps a bit too passionate.  The work would have been great without the last half.  If you want to know about the history of candy and how much the British like candy and chocolate, this book is for you.
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I do like reading a non-fiction book every now and again, I love learning about the history of everyday items, clothes or in this case sweets. I didn’t expect the book to go so far back in time as it did.

One interesting fact was that in ancient India pieces of sugar cane juice were boiled and when eaten called khanda, the original candy! Before sugar was available honey was used as the basis of sweets. Sweets were used as offerings in religious ceremonies. Sweets, comfits and sweetmeats were the essential finale to a perfect medieval feast.

Liquorice was originally used for its medicinal and thirst-quenching properties. It was given to Roman Legionnaires for them to consume on long marches. Still on the subject of liquorice, in 1899 a salesman dropped a tray of samples and thus Liquorice Allsorts were invented and they are still in existence and quite popular even now, many years later.

I really enjoyed reading about my local area which is quite famous as being the home of Pontefract Cakes/Pomfret Cakes, I’m a bit ashamed to say despite living in this area all my life I hadn’t heard the story of the significance of the whole different images stamped on the liquorice pennies. In fact, it’s a bit of a tourist attraction, as the museum contains information about it and there is a Liquorice Fair during a couple of weeks in July in Pontefract. I did know that Farmer Copley’s grew liquorice root, though didn’t know they are the only ones left doing so in the UK!!

It was fascinating reading about the rather controversial sweets such as candy cigarettes, which I do remember from my childhood. At the time smoking was not considered as so bad for you and not as taboo as smoking is these days. Smoking was heavily featured on TV and in Movies so naturally children emulate their parents and screen idols.

Then all the different names for what we now call “Jelly Babies” started out as “Peace Babies” were sent to troops in 1918. They were also called “Unclaimed Babies” after the “foundling babies” left on the steps of a church or hospital. I honestly didn’t even know that the different coloured jelly babies had names, such as “Baby Bonny” for the pink, raspberry flavoured one and “Bumper” for the orange coloured/flavoured one. I had already heard of and tried the “Jellyatrics” ones that were first made in 1999. As the name suggests these are not made in the shape of “babies” but made in the form of older people, hence the name. Then in 2017 a range of tropical flavoured babies were brought out, including mango

I absolutely loved reading about the history of Needlers sweet factory of Hull as my mum and some of her sisters actually worked there when they left school. So, it was a great conversation starter with her and certainly a trip down memory lane. So much so I have bought the book about Needlers Sweet Factory, sadly all the photographs in that book are of the earlier years of the factory and not covering the years my mum worked there. The History of Sweets actually mentioned the names of the different machines, such as Cyclone Pulveriser, Lightening Twister, and the Eureka being just three of them mentioned.

The book really does contain some fantastic facts and the release years of all the different sweets. It covers the rationing during World War 2 and how sweets were re-introduced by giving away freebies to encourage future sales. I loved looking at the timeline of sweets from 1866 to 1977. For instance, Cadbury’s Dairy Milk came out in 1905, Maltesers were 1936 and in 1976 Marathons were created but have since changed name to Snickers. This book is an interesting read that I could go on and on about. I loved reading and remembering old sweets from my childhood that are no longer available too, like Neapolitans, my grandparents had them every year at Christmas.

My immediate thoughts upon finishing the book where it was amazing any children survived with some of the ingredients put in sweets!

Summing up I found the book really interesting.
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interesting book about the history of sweets and its history with sugar and look at modern sweet companies and how things have changed. this book is also very linked with the authors other book Rowntree's the early history
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I received a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review
This was a cute book. Very short and sweet and I couldn't get enough smiles out of some of the info.
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I received an ARC of this book thanks to NetGalley and publisher Pen & Sword in exchange for an honest review.

I was very excited to read this book. Look at that cover! This is essentially what it says on the tin, a brief history of different kinds of sweets and famous (mostly UK) companies. I live in York and I have a friend who lives in Birmingham so I had some background knowledge of the history of sweets with regards to the companies that operated in those areas. Chrystal clearly has a specialty in York knowledge so I did really enjoy that angle from a personal point of view.

This book hits all the key aspects you would expect and it is quite neatly organised. It firstly does a quick run through of different types of sweets, their historical origins and some interesting facts about their development. Next it hones in on some particularly important sweet companies and periods of time, before discussing advertising, wartime rationing and other factors of sweet history.

I really enjoyed reading this book and I felt like I learned a lot. I particularly liked the broad range of sweets it covered and I felt there was enough detail without it being overwhelming. This book is a little dry compared to some nonfiction books, but it was very readable and accessible. I felt it hit the information level just right and enabled me to seek out further details on certain things if I wanted to. Just be aware that it is written in a more academic style than pop-history.

Overall, I definitely recommend this book for a good overview of the history of sweets and chocolate. It was easy to dip in and out of and I had a lot of fun learning more about this topic.

Overall Rating: 4/5 stars
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An excellent, thorough, and hugely enjoyable book about the beginnings of sweets and their development up to the current day. This is a fascinating, well researched and detailed history of the evolution of sweets around the world, full of wonderful illustrations and photographs. The author explains how medicine and sweets became interlinked as well as their dangers before they were controlled by legislation. He does not shy away from the connection between sugar, slavery and child labour, and highlights the commendable Nestle Action Against Child Labour Sustainability Program as one of the ways that improvements are being made.
The vast assortment of sweets and chocolates that have been created and marketed is incredible, and that so many of the UK companies began and remain in Yorkshire is striking. The author also considers the health aspects of sugar, sweets and chocolate. My Grandmother worked at the Needlers factory in Hull, so from a personal point of view I found the references particularly interesting. Thank you to Paul Chrystal, Net Galley and Pen and Sword History for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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