Tis’ the Season for Candy …

Hearts and Spurs MedThis is my favorite time of the year because we can make, eat, and enjoy tons of candy and justify it because it’s the holiday season!

In my story Tumbleweeds and Valentines for the anthology Hearts and Spurs from Prairie Rose Publications, I wanted my sassy, Texan heroine to have an enjoyable job.  How much more fun could a lady in the late 1800’s have than to own a confectionary store? 

I almost didn’t write this blog on candy because I thought … “Wow, it’s a long time to Valentine’s Day!”  Then I thought, “But we have candy from Halloween through Valentines.”

 What kind of candy would my heroine have in her store?  We know the type that would be in a mercantile. Penny candy. Licorice, gumdrops, and later lollypops.  Penny candy became the first material thing many children spent their own money on. For this reason candy store owners relied almost entirely on the business of children to keep them running. But, for my heroine what could she have that was really special for a cowboy to buy his sweetheart for Valentine’s Day?  Research time knocked on my door.  So, here are some interesting facts I found. 

It has been reported that the fascination with candy, particularly chocolate, first occurred in 1502 when Christopher Columbus returned home from his fourth voyage of the “Americas.”  Although he was not personally partial to the bittersweet treat, his benefactors in Spain found it fascinating, and five centuries later the love of chocolate continues stronger than ever.

Before sugar was readily available, candy was made from honey.  Honey was used as far back as the Roman Empire to coat fruits and flowers to preserve them or to create forms of candy.   

Candy originally was a medicine, either used to calm the digestive system or cool a sore throat.  In the Middle Ages it appeared on the tables of only the wealthy.  At that time, candy began as a combination of spices and sugar that was used as an aid to digestive problems, which were common due to the constant consumption of food that was neither fresh nor well balanced.  Banquet hosts typically served these type of “candies” at banquets for their guests.  One in particular was referred to as a “chamber spice” and made with cloves, ginger, aniseed, juniper berries, almonds and pine kernels dipped in melted sugar.

The first candy came to America in the early 1700’s from Britain and France. Only a few of the early colonists were proficient in sugar work and were able to provide the treats for only the very wealthy.

Prior to the 1900’s candy was commonly sold unwrapped from street vendors, whereNecco Wafers it was exposed to dirt and insects.  By 1914 there were some machines to wrap gum and stick candies, but this was not the common practice.  After the polio outbreak in 1916, unwrapped treats garnered widespread censure because of the dirt and germs.  At the time, only upscale candy stores used glass jars.  With advancements in technology wax paper was adopted, and foil and cellophane were imported from France by DuPont in 1925.  Necco packagers were one of the first companies to package their wafers without human touch.        

Hard candy may be indefinitely stored, while milk chocolate and caramels might stale after a year. But my favorite, and one that purports to have health benefits, dark chocolate can last up to two years.

Just a couple of interesting tidbits:

1848:  The first branded chewing gum, made from tree sap, was The State of Maine Spruce Gum, followed by William Wrigley, Jr.’s Juicy Fruit and Spearmint gum in 1893.

1854:   Whitman’s Chocolates became available.

1868:  Richard Cadbury made the first Valentine’s Day box of chocolates, starting the tradition that continues today.  Conversation Hearts arrived on the scene around 1902.

1896:  “Tootsie Rolls” came along by Leo Hirshfield, a New York confectioner, who named the candy after his daughter’s nickname, “Tootsie”.

1900: Milton Hershey introduced the Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar.  The famous Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Kisses appeared in 1906.

ValomilkAlthough I’ve mentioned many of my favorite candies, the one that I grew up with and probably loved more than any are the Valomilk Candy, originally known as dips,  which was accidentally invented in 1931. I loved those yummy chocolate covered marshmallow treats.  But, my fondest memories go back to my grandfather who kept Hershey Kisses just for the grandkids.

 I could go on forever about famous candies, but I’d love to know what your favorite is and why? 

  To the first person giving me the name of the most popular candy in the United States, I will give you an eCopy of Tycoon and the Texan or Wishing for a Cowboy.





Wishing for a Cowboy Sm

Watch for Wishing for a Cowboy due out November 1st.

We are thrilled that Kensington released the award-winning anthology with Fellow Filly, Linda Broday, DeWanna Pace, Jodi Thomas and yours truly A Texas Christmas again for this holiday season.  It’s available at a special price at Walmart Stores and Sam’s Clubs throughout the nation, plus at your favorite bookstore.  If you are an eBook lover, you can get it from Amazon.com and BN.com.





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A native Texan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Phyliss Miranda still believes in the Code of the Old West and loves to share her love for antiques, the lost art of quilting, and the Wild West.

Visit her at phylissmiranda.com

33 thoughts on “Tis’ the Season for Candy …”

  1. Hi Phyliss. Good article. I love any chocolate. I can’t use a e-book unless it’a PDF, but just wanted to guess anyway. I will guess the Hershey Bar.
    Your books look good. Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

  2. Good morning, Maxie. Good to see you so early in the morning. I love chocolate, too. Now that they say dark chocolate, my favorite, in small amounts is good for you, I’m thrilled. Being a diabetic, my DH brings me sugar-free dark chocolate Hershey miniatures. They sure are good. I’m not giving away the answer until the very end, so I’ll let you know if you’re the winner! A big hug from Texas, Phyliss

  3. I love this delightful post about candy! I certainly have a sweet tooth and enjoy lots of different candies. I am going to guess one of my favorites- snickers.

    texaggs2000 at gmail dot com

  4. I am going to guess M&M’s. I love this post. I am a candy lover from way back. Thank you for all the lovely details. My mouth is watering!

  5. Very interesting, Phyliss! But candy is my weakness. I love any and all kinds. Valomilk was one of my favorites also. But I always have to have a box of chocolate covered cherries at Christmas. Just wouldn’t be the same without it. Not sure what the most popular in the U.S. is but I’d guess M&M’s or Hershey Kisses. Excellent blog. Can’t wait to read your Valentine story about a confectionery shop in an old West town. Great!

  6. Oh yummy candy and chocolate!! I’m an addict. 🙂
    The candy bar is the most popular candy (according to me) and I think either Snickers or Hersheys is the most popular. Now I’m curious! I think M&Ms are probably in the top 10 too.

  7. Love the candy history info, Phyliss. As always, I learned a few things I didn’t know on the subject. Can’t wait to read you and Linda’s Valentine novellas. But have one more question …any history on eye candy? LOL.

  8. Love this blog, Phyliss, but of course you’re talking about one of my favorite subjects. A heroine who runs a confectionery shop, how fun! And from now on when I grab a piece of candy, I’ll explain it’s for medicinal purposes. 🙂


  9. Phyliss, what a completely wonderful, timely, and tasty post!

    The pic of the NECCO made me smile. A few years ago, we spent our last night in New England at a nice airport hotel in Revere, MA. Sad the trip was over, but knowing the airport shuttle had quick, easy transportation to Boston Logan early the next morning. We’d turned in our rental car (long, boring story here: the Hertz office had moved but nobody told us) and were walking back to the hotel when we passed a giant complex–the New England Confectionary Company. NECCO. I remembered these “coins” from my Halloween bag of long ago, so we had to get some rolls of wafers for the kids. Thanks for the hobble down Memory Lane.

    As for my personal favorites, it’s Almond Joy and most anything by See’s Candy.

    I can’t WAIT for your Valentine story! xoxox

  10. Loved reading your little history lesson. If I were to choose a family favorite I would have to say a Twin Bing Bar but since that is not everywhere, I’ll guess Tootsie Roll.

  11. Phyliss, your story sounds like it’s going to be fabulous–very different! I had completely forgotten about Valomilk! My mom loved those! My favorite candy would probably have to be Hershey’s with or without almonds. But a close 2nd would be Milky Way, and sometimes those are interchangeable. Great post. I never knew all this about candy, and candy is one of my …ahem…favorite subjects!LOL

  12. There was a 7-11 store just two blocks from where me and Linda grew up in Hobbs, New Mexico and we often walked up to get a piece of candy. My favorite was something called a Cherry Mash. Don’t have a clue if they even still make them. Can’t wait to read your new story!!

  13. ah, what an evil post, Phyliss. I am dieting and guess what is NOT on my diet!? Candy in any form.
    I love sweets. Snickers … this time of year… candy corn. I am soooooo not picky;. who said Bing candy bars, I LOVE THEM!!!!!!
    Butterfingers. I can just eat them for a ridiculous length of time. They are just not tooooo sweet so I can keep having just ONE MORE BITE!

    I love PEANUT M & Ms.

    Anything with chocolate and caramel. Better yet, Chocolate caramel and peanuts.
    Gummi Savers…Peachies……..

    I could list candy all day. That’s really not the point of your blog now is it?????

  14. I promise to answer everyone’s comments after someone scrapes me off the ceiling, since we just learned, thanks to Fellow Filly Linda B., that “Wish for a Cowboy” just became available at amazon.com as an eBook for $3.99! So hurry off and buy it! Hugs to all, Phyliss

  15. Hi Janine, good to see you. Also a good choice, but I’ll start eliminating now. Nope, not Reese’s peanut butter cups, but I have to admit, I think I was addicted to them at least once in my lifetime.

    Britny, I think I love Snickers, too, but sorry … wrong. So good to hear from you. You can always come back in and guess again!

    Melanie, good to see you. I’m an M&M lover, too. I have my grandmother’s candy jar on the bookcase and my daughter, who I must say has a daughter in college, hits the M&M’s the moment she gets into my house. Good guess!

    Keep guessing ladies! Hugs and thanks for dropping by to all three of you, Phyliss

  16. Sherri, who wouldn’t love to be in the Cadbury family? Yummy. I love chocolate covered marshmallow treats of any sort and of course the Cadbury bunny comes to mind. I guess he isn’t marshmallow, but I still love him.

    CateS, good guess! Gotta love those M&M’s.

    Thanks, my Fellow Filly Linda. I see a pattern here with M&M’s. I know we both like the Valomilk treats. As I recall, they took them off the market for a lot of years, but I think they are back, but maybe a little harder to find than some of the candies. Thanks to your suggestion, I’m all excited about my heroine owning a candy shop at Valentine’s! You’re a great partner to share plots and ideas with.

    Big hugs to all of you ladies, Phyliss

  17. Oh DeWanna, good to see you here. Eye candy, well just wait until the Christmas holidays. We’re having a string of days where we are featuring some larruping’ eye candy and they come with a Stetson, cowboy boots, and a sidearm! I’ll let you know when we have firm dates, my friend! Hugs, P

  18. Kirsten, how funny! I never thought about allowing myself to eat candy in the name of good health, except for dark chocolate. Too funny, my friend. Good to see you. Hugs, P

  19. Oh Tayna, I think I must be addicted to more candies than I fessed up to because Almond Joy’s are absolutely my favorite. Being a diabetic, my DH buys me the Russell Stover sugar free coconut and chocolate squares. When I get some, I promise myself that I’ll eat only two, after all only two pieces come in an Almond Bar, but I find myself eating more than two … they are little, right? I remembered the wafers from my young days and when we go to Disney World we always bring back candy for the grands. Thanks for stopping by and making me hungry for coconut! Hugs my friend, P

  20. Connie J, good guess and another of my favorites. Twin Bing Bar sounds interesting. What kind of candy is it? It could be my next favorite candy bar … who knows! Thanks for commenting. Hugs, P

  21. Hi Sister Filly Cheryl, I think the Valomilk and M&M’s might be the leader of the favorites on this list. One is as messy as the other is neat and clean to eat. I just found it fun to learn more about candy researching for our Valentine’s anthology. And, I’m so excited to learn that not only is “Wishing for a Cowboy” on Amazon, but it also hit Smashwords and BN.com. I’m so excited to find time to read everyone’s stories. Big hugs and have some candy on me, my friend. Love, P

    Hi Jan, your sister and I were just talking about cherry and chocolate candies. I remember the Cherry Mash. At Christmas my aunt always gave us chocolate covered cherries and I’ve passed that tradition on to my grands. Bob’s mother made them from scratch. Yummy! Thanks for the memories, precious friend. Love, P

  22. I would say Butterfingers, Snickers and Reese’s peanut butter cups are the most popular. I have never seen a Valomilk candy bar here but something like it is a Mellow cup.

  23. A Twin Bing is made by the palmer candy company. it is a little like a cherry mash but soooooo much better! My family moved out of the State of Nebraska and could not get them for years so they were a special request for birthdays and Christmas for many years. My mother in law made a homemade version that was super but I have never made them as special as hers.

  24. Sorry to see that snickers were not at the top. Looks like M&M’s have gotten the most votes. Bet that’s it! I think I’ll dip into the Halloween candy and enjoy a few right now!

  25. I would think the M&M’s in their main 2 varieties would be the most popular candy.
    Necco wafers were and still are one of my favorites. Add Junior Mints, Sugar Babies, Milk Duds, and more recently Twix, Rolos, Heath Bars, Skittles, Almond Joys, Mounds and unfortunately many more. Your Valomilk candy looks a lot like the Malo Cups I like.

    Thanks for an interesting and fun post.

    I am glad they are releasing A TEXAS CHRISTMAS again. It is a great book and more people should get the opportunity to read it.

  26. I apologize to everyone who I didn’t get an opportunity to respond to today, but I appreciate your stopping by. Miss Linda and I went to a workshop on Human Trafficking because it’s the previous job as a lawman of one of my heros in a Kasota Springs story. It was amazing, and I absolutely had no idea that a town like ours could even have such horrid things going on. One thinks “big city” or border city. It was so interesting and I got some wonderful tips.

    Okay, everyone M&M’s is the favorite. I’m fixin’ to selected my winners. I say winners because “Wishing for a Cowboy” came out today, so I’ll give an eBook of it away, too.

    I hope everyone has a wonderful evening. Much love and big hugs, Phyliss

  27. Jan Sikes, yes they still make Cherry Mash and I get them (of all places) in my local Ace Hardware store! Those were some of my mother’s favorites–and I remember back in the day when they had real cherry centers, kind of like chocolate covered cherries.

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