SWEET TOOTH by Kate Hopkins


The Bittersweet History of Candy
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The history of confections from a candy enthusiast.

The vision of sugary candies brings an immediate watering of the mouth and a sense of delight. Facing a midlife crisis, Hopkins (99 Drams of Whiskey: The Accidental Hedonist's Quest for the Perfect Shot and the History of the Drink, 2009) wondered how her happy-go-lucky, sugar-filled childhood had turned into the stress-filled life of the average American adult. By "indulging in the ultimate childhood fantasy" of taste testing while studying the history of candy, she hoped to overcome her midlife crisis and recapture some of the magic of her childhood. Her travels took her across the United States and Europe, with stops in Venice, Genoa, Edinburgh and London as she followed a trail of sweetness from honey-coated fruits to the modern Necco wafer. She discovered that modern "candy" had its origins in the apothecary and pharmaceutical shops where sugar was added to medicine to make it more palatable. Originally affordable only to the wealthy, sugar became common and inexpensive as explorers claimed land in the New World and planted sugar cane. With distress, Hopkins learned that the foundation of her sweet tooth rested on the backs of African slaves who tended the sugar plantations of Jamaica and Barbados. The Spanish introduced cocoa as a bitter, lukewarm, frothy drink, often with a "scum-like bubbling" on top. Bar chocolate made a late entrance into the sweetened-treat category after the invention of the water engine, which allowed a finer grind of cocoa beans. Hopkins also looks at the origins of large-scale conglomerates such as Cadbury and Necco, leaving readers to ponder the demise of small-scale confectioners for the sake of big business and profit.

A pleasing chronology of candy through the ages.

Pub Date: May 22nd, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-312-66810-5
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2012


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