Is Candy Making a Lost Art? Hundred-Year-Old Candy Thermometer Advertisement

Source: American Cookery (January, 1917)
Source: American Cookery (January, 1917)

I was surprised when I saw this hundred-year-old advertisement for candy thermometers.Β  Sometimes I think that making homemade candy is becoming a lost art – but I thought that this a a relatively recent phenomena. I was wrong. People have been concerned about the decline in candy making for at least a hundred years.

42 thoughts on “Is Candy Making a Lost Art? Hundred-Year-Old Candy Thermometer Advertisement

  1. Making candy is a lost art in this household. That is something I never fancied doing, other then taffy and chocolate covered pecans that’s the limit of my candy making. Like the ad … they are serious about selling their thermometer.

  2. Well I have a thermometer which I use for jam and marmalade making rather than for sweets. I guess as we get older, sugar-rushes are less attractive to us. We even eat jam and marmalade less often.

    1. I also eat fewer sweets now than I did when I was younger. Maybe we’ve learned a little about the importance of eating healthier across the years.. πŸ™‚

  3. I still have the Taylor candy thermometer my mother and I used for making fudge and divinity when I was a kid. Not only that, I have its original box and the little brochure that came with it. The model shown here looks like # 5908, the Deluxe model: “Stainless steel scale with large black figures ranged from 40 to 320 degrees F in 2 degree intervals; 3 times easier-to-read ‘Binoc’ tube; ring for hanging.”

    The model we had model #5916: “Non-corrosive scale with conventional type thermnometer tube; ranged 40 to 320 degrees F in 2 degree divisions; wood handle.”

    There also was this helpful note: “Altitude and barometric pressure affect the boiling point of liquids. To correct for this, test thermometer in bubbling, boiling water to find the variation from 212F and use this correction in recipes. For example, if the water boils at 210F, subtract 2F from all recipe temperatures.”

    And by the way — the price still is on the box. $3.95. Since Mom had it by the time we started making candy, it would have been purchased no later than the late 1940s.

    1. Wow, it’s really cool that you have the your mother’s candy thermometer – and that you still have the original box and brochure. I needed those directions about how to correct temperature errors. . When my daughter and I made candy last year, my thermometer didn’t seem to be accurately measuring temperatures. She solved the problem by giving me a new candy thermometer for Christmas. πŸ™‚

  4. Wow – who knew!? I love making candy too, but I know so many people who are intimidated by it! And they sure don’t make candy thermometers like they used to. I have owned several “good ones” and after a while, the calibration is off. Now I do the boil test and readjust for the discrepancy (I stopped replacing them and do this now) . I also have to readjust for altitude where I live. I can see why this would turn off someone off – it’s a bit of a pain! πŸ™‚

    1. I’ve never calibrated a candy thermometer, but really need to do the boil test. I have a candy thermometer that definitely is a bit off. When I use it, I always double check its accuracy by dropping a little of the hot liquid into a cup of ice water to see whether the candy has reached the right stage (soft ball, hard ball, etc.).

    1. It also surprised me that they thought that candy making was becoming a lost art a hundred years ago. I’ve occasionally made hard candies, and I made lollipops with my kids a couple times years ago, but I tend to prefer to make fudge and other similar types of candy.

  5. My mom made fudge, divinity, and a date candy at Christmas. I’ve done them, too, though not often. I’m satisfied with the cold water test. Once in a while we see tourist fudge traps, and that’s when I come home and make it for us.

    1. There are so many things that can go wrong when making candy, but somehow I always think that the next time I’ll get everything just right and the candy will be perfect. πŸ™‚

    1. mmm. . . I love peanut brittle. I have peanut brittle on my to-do list of old-fashioned candies that I want to make during the 2017 holiday season.

  6. I like that ad, it does give me pause to realize that an ad from back then, talked about the lack of enthusiasm of the new generation to follow in the foot steps of the fore-mothers (is that a word? lol) Well, that’s what I got out of it. lol

    Every few years, we make fudge using the old recipes (before marshmallow cream became the rage) we use the soft-ball technique to see if our fudge is ready to pour on a flat dish to let it harden.
    Have a wonderful weekend. πŸ™‚

    1. The soft-ball technique works for me. Sometimes I use a candy thermometer; other times I don’t – but regardless I always use the soft ball technique to check (or double check) that the candy has reached the right stage. πŸ™‚

      I hope that you also have a wonderful week-end.

  7. When I lived in rural Kansas, it was quite common for people to make their own cinnamon candy, and occasionally taffy. Before then, I didn’t know anyone who made candy.

    1. Over the years I’ve made a couple kinds of taffy for this blog. Each time I’ve done it, it was when my children were visiting over holidays We had a lot of fun. I can see why taffy pulls were so popular a hundred years ago.

  8. Other than fudge, I’ve never tried to make candy. We are blessed to have a fantastic chocolate maker in our state (Munson’s) and the factory is only 10 minutes from our house! About two years ago, an organic Belgium chocolate shop opened in our town that has to die for chocolate candy. And near where I work, the director of the counseling center left to fulfill his dream of opening up a candy store that has every candy imaginable. So I figure, why bother making it? lol

    1. mmm. . . The candy shops in your area sound amazing. I’m not sure whether to be jealous . . . or thankful that I don’t have so many temptations. πŸ™‚

  9. Sheryl,
    The cottage cheese pie looks yummy! I was surprised to learn that candy making was a lost art 100 years ago. That would be true today for sure!

    I don’t make candy as much because I know it will all end up in my tummy πŸ™‚

  10. Wow Sheryl, this article is really cool! Dolle’s was created in 1910, so it’s neat to see history in action with this article from 1917. Keeping candy-making alive is something we pride ourselves in doing.

  11. Domestic sweet making should be a lost art, for a few good reasons. Severely restricting access to high sugar, empty calorific contents is a very good idea for the sake of healthy teeth, waistlines & diabetes. There is also a better example to set if children are around – especially if they are around regularly. Then there is the professional sweet making industry to consider. What happens if masses of people stop buying sweets because they make sweets themselves? Yes, the spectre of unemployment. Plus, the real art of professional sweet making methods then get lost…
    I may sound like a moody killjoy but, there really is nothing wrong with the occasional batch of home made sweets. It is fun and instructive. It’s when people scale up the production particularly if they want to save money, that things can get out of hand. They will

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