The history of candy is aligned with "the expanding rights of women," reports Daniel Akst in a Wall Street Journal review of Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure, by Samira Kawash (12/14/13). Candy is also "a useful prism for looking at the history of industrialized food … and the rise of government regulation." But it is "a window on the changing role of American women," as well. "A century ago, candy was considered an appropriately domestic product for women to sell and thus provided a way for some women to become entrepreneurs."

Among them was Ora Snyder, who had to find a way to support her family "when her ailing husband couldn’t," and ended up owning "16 candy stores" by the time she died, in 1948. Elizabeth Evans started making candy as a teen, eventually building "a coveted brand" and publishing "a how-to book, ‘My Candy Secrets‘." The democratization of candy began with the industrial revolution; candy was "hard to make at home" and so it was mostly available only to the wealthy. However, factory-made candy was controversial, amid accusations that it "was adulterated and even poisonous."

A 1925 expose in McClure’s magazine claimed "that candy and other junk foods were padded with glue, soapstone, talc, paraffin, shellac, radiator lacquer and other materials." Others falsely charged "that machinery grease was used to soften chocolate." The two World Wars, meanwhile, "helped expand the nation’s candy habit," as soldiers were issued candy bars as "emergency rations," and reportedly consumed "50 pounds per year," on average. Today, it’s estimated that Americans "eat more candy per capita – something like 24 pounds – than … fish, rice or citrus fruit."


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