Should We Eat Candy?

Sour Cream Fudge
Sour Cream Fudge

I like candy, but always feel guilty when I eat it, so I was pleased to discover hundred-year-old advice on the role of candy in the diet.

The Use of Candy in the Diet

Candy is an energy-giving food, but, unfortunately perhaps, it is not (at all times) a most desirable energy-giving food. Sugar exists in candy in concentrated form. In this condition, sugar is irritating to the organs of digestion.

Sugar is contained in large quantity in some fruits, especially in dried fruits, figs, dates, prunes, etc. These fruits are a much better source of sweets for children than is candy, because they do not contain as much sugar, and have, in addition, valuable food materials in the form of ash.

Candy should never be used to excess. A little eaten at the end of a meal is not harmful to a normal person. At that time the sugar does not come in direct contact with the walls of the alimentary canal, as it would if eaten between meals.

A Text-Book of Cooking by Carlotta C. Greer (1915)

The quote mentions “ash” in fruits. Ash is an old-time term for the minerals in foods.

46 thoughts on “Should We Eat Candy?

    1. The way they thought about (and described) food nutrients were quite different a hundred years ago from what it is now. I keep thinking that I should do a post on it, but I find the old system a little difficult to understand and worry that I’d do an inaccurate (and perhaps very boring) comparison across time, so keep putting it off.

  1. Should we eat candy? Yes! Should we eat candy to excess, or in place of other, more nutritious foods? Nope. Have I been known to cruise through an entire bag of Snickers minis? Yep. Do I eat candy every day? Not at all.

    It occurs to me that, when I was growing up, there was a candy dish in every home. It usually was filled with filled candies, peppermints, or Brach’s Bridge Mix. And yet we never, ever would have dreamed of just taking candy from the dish without asking permission. And there were many times when we were told “No, it’s too close to supper.”

    1. Your comment brings back nice memories of my grandparents candy dish. It was always filled with salt water taffy or wrapped hard candies. It was a special treat to get a piece of candy from it. The logic that the people used a hundred years ago for eating candy seems a bit odd now, but in many ways I think that they had a better approach than what we do now.

      1. And this thought came to me later yesterday. Our candy back then was better than candy today — that is, what we ate was made with many fewer ingredients, and real sugar. Just for fun, I stopped in a store last night, found some “fudge” for sale, and counted the ingredients on the wrapper: eighteen! When we made fudge at home, it was composed of milk, sugar, cocoa, and a dash of salt, with a bit of butter added at the end. Because it was more satisfying, we ate less.

        1. I think you are right. Like you, I’m often shocked by how many ingredients (often with unintelligible names) most candies and baked goods have today.

    1. I’m sure that the explanation today would be couched in modern medical understandings and terminology, but I want to think that there is a grain of truth in the old explanation. πŸ™‚

    1. I also think that the key is moderation. Now that you mention, my parents always had a shelf in the cupboard that was filled with bags of candy. Much of the candy was things like Pink Wintergreen Candies, Salt Water Taffy, and Orange Peanut Candies. I never had an urge to eat more than a piece or two at a time.

  2. And here after all these years .. I thought Mom’s saying of .. Wait to eat your candy after dinner so as not to ruin your dinner…was for the thing of me not eating my vegetables ,orπŸ€”Was it that I would eat them with the thought of candy waiting.. Lol. Honestly I think the key to candy is … moderation.

    1. I also have vague memories of people saying to wait to eat candy until after dinner so as not to ruin my meal. You may be right that candy was supposed to be a motivator to eat our meals. πŸ™‚

  3. I haven’t really enjoyed eating sweets since I left childhood behind – lucky me. Chocolate, though, that’s entirely different (so long as it’s good dark plain chocolate, which apparently is even good for you – guilt free pleasure).

    1. It’s wonderful to hear that you enjoyed this post. They thought that the body “burned” food as fuel, so the minerals in the food was the ash. πŸ™‚

  4. Interesting thoughts and info on sugar in the diet.
    I’d never heard of ‘ash’ before. Thanks for sharing that. It’s interesting the words and phrases that were commonplace back then. πŸ™‚

    1. Sometimes I find it amazing how much has changed in how people think about digestion and the composition of foods across the years.

  5. Was writing about licorice and found out it has been available commercially in North America since early 1900s. We used to be able to buy loose penny candy by the bag, but I haven’t found it here since about ten years ago.

    1. In general they had a good sense of which foods were healthy ones- though they often explained why some foods were better than others in different ways than what we would now.

  6. Yes, a little candy at the end of the meal is the best way to go. Then the sugar doesn’t hit our blood system quite so hard. Interesting that they knew that so long ago!

    1. I like how they explained it differently back then, but that they had a similar common-sense understanding that it was better to eat a little candy on a full stomach than a empty one.

  7. This was great! So much wisdom. When I think about how addicted people are to sugar (think Duncan Donuts) it makes me sad. I’ve heard it said sugar is as addicting as cocaine. This woman was advocating for moderation and awareness. Amazing.

  8. I see, I am not the only one who loves candy. I always look for the unique and am surprised by how many different kinds of candy I find. I remember eating candy to an excess as a kid, but very tempered these days. I love the candy dishes with tops to preserve the candy surprisingly for a long, long, time.
    Thank you Sheryl from Sheila.

    1. There are some beautiful vintage candy dishes. I have several – though usually I don’t fill them (except when I make a candy for a blog post). πŸ™‚

  9. I guess I should not go get another piece of the candy our friend brought us from Ecuador. It is between meals and nothing would be between that sugar and my inners.

  10. For some reason I never liked raisins. My father couldn’t understand this and would try to convince me that they were sweet and delicious. He proclaimed them to be Nature’s Candy! I guess one man’s candy is another’s…

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