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Candy, specifically sugar candy, is a confection made from a concentrated solution of sugar in water, to which flavorings and colorants are added. Candies come in numerous colors and varieties and have a long history in popular culture.
The Middle English word candy began to be used in the late 13th century, coming into English from the Old French çucre candi, derived in turn from Persian Qand (=قند) and Qandi (=قندی), "cane sugar", probably derived from Sanskrit word khanda (खण्ड) "piece (of sugar)", perhaps from Dravidian (cf. Tamil kantu for candy, or kattu "to harden, condense"). In North America, candy is a broad category that includes candy bars, chocolates, licorice, sour candies, salty candies, tart candies, hard candies, taffies, gumdrops, marshmallows, and more. Vegetables or fruit, or nuts which have been glazed and coated with sugar are said to be candied.
Outside North America, the generic English-language name for candy is sweets or confectionery (United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa and other commonwealth countries). In Australia and New Zealand, small pieces of sweet substance are known as "lollies".
In North America, Australia, the Caribbean, NZ and the UK, the word "lollipop" refers specifically to sugar candy with flavoring on a stick. While not used in the generic sense of North America, the term candy is used in the UK for specific types of foods such as candy floss (cotton candy in North America and fairy floss in Australia), and certain other sugar based products such as candied fruit.
The global sales of sugar confectionery candy market in 2010 were about $57.5 billion.
Before sugar was readily available, candy was made from honey. Honey was used in Ancient China, Middle East, Egypt, Greece and the Roman Empire to coat fruits and flowers to preserve them or to create forms of candy. Candy is still served in this form today, though now it is more typically seen as a type of garnish.
Candy was originally a form of medicine, either used to calm the digestive system or cool a sore throat. In the Middle Ages candy appeared on the tables of only the most wealthy at first. At that time it began as a combination of spices and sugar that was used as an aid to digestive problems. Digestive problems were very common during this time due to the constant consumption of food that was neither fresh nor well balanced. Banquet hosts would typically serve these types of 'candies' at banquets for their guests. One of these candies, sometimes referred to as a 'chamber spice', was made with cloves, ginger, aniseed, juniper berries, almonds and pine kernels dipped in melted sugar.
The first candy came to America in the early eighteenth century from Britain and France. Only a few of the early colonists were proficient in sugar work and were able to provide the sugary treats for the very wealthy. Rock candy, made from crystallized sugar, was the simplest form of candy, but even this basic form of sugar was considered a luxury and was only attainable by the rich. In contrast, since 1979 the world has produced more sugar than can be sold, making it very attainable and cheap.