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19th-Century Candy

Some of the American pioneers' greatest pleasures came from what we take for granted today. Some of the candy we enjoy today was invented in the nineteenth century.
Storekeepers kept candy on hand for their customers. Here's a description of Laura Ingalls Wilder's first candy heart experience in Pepin, Wisconsin from Little House in the Big Woods.
"Both pieces of candy were white, and flat and thin and heart-shaped. There was printing on them, in red letters. Ma read it for them. Mary's said: 
  Roses are red, 
Violets are blue,
Sugar is sweet, 
And so are you.
Laura's said only: 
Sweets to the sweet.
The pieces of candy were exactly the same size. Laura's printing was larger than Mary's." 

Conversation Hearts

Though conversations hearts have changed some, they were first invented in the 1860s by the NECCO candy company. They are the best-selling Valentine's Day candy today.

Chewing Gum

Chewing gum has been around for thousands of years. The first patent was given in 1869, and the first flavored chewing gum, called Black Jack, was sold in 1884. Black Jack gum was still sold until recently. Still popular Juicy Fruit was introduced in 1893.

Candy Corn

Candy corn was first made in the 1880s. Though the method of preparing candy corn had changed, the makers still use the original recipe.


Twizzlers candy debuted in 1845 from the Young and Smylie confectionary firm. Licorice was the original flavor.

Tootsie Rolls

Leo Hirschfield invented the rolled chocolate Tootsie Rolls in 1896. They sold for a penny.


The Little House books often mention peppermint sticks as a sweet treat, too. Lemon drops were another popular candy in the 1800s. Chocolate did not become popular in candy until the 20th-Century. Remember Laura's joy over her stick of candy?

What's your favorite 19th-century candy?

This blog post came about because of my research during the writing of my book The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide. The book includes rich history, discussion, and 75 activities. 
~ Annette Whipple