Winter is coming. Well ... at least, according to the HBO hit series Game of Thrones. I've been watching a fair amount of Game of Thrones over the past month or two (also, just because I feel like letting my nerd flag fly, I finished reading all of the available books several years ago and have been waiting for a long time for these shows, even going so far as to allow one of those "you can get free HBO for one month!" telemarketers hook me just so I could watch them. Ohhhhh, just wait for season three and the Red Wedding!).
Anyway, even though Game of Thrones technically doesn't take place on Earth, it got me thinking a lot about Medieval times, what with the swords and horses, etc. So I started thinking: what kind of candies were popular in Medieval times? Sure, the Medieval times probably weren't all pop and Skittles with all the Black Plague and what not. But surely there must have been a couple of minutes to kick back and have some sugar.
So I hit the googles, and this is what I came up with:
1. Sweetmeats referred to any sugary food.
2. Sugar was once believed to have a good medicinal properties. As opposed to the "diabetes causing" kind of medicinal properties.
3. Sugar cane is a giant grass, and is native to the Ganges region of India. Some historians place the origin of sugar cane as a treat to residents near the Ganes as early as 1200 BC. That's B frickin C, people. By 1000 AD, sugar had reached the Middle East and the coast of Africa. By 1500 AD, sugar was Europeanized and was being grown in the new colonies.
4. Up until about 1900, sugar was sold in block forms -- ones, bricks, etc., -- in pound increments.
5. Licorice, marshmallows, marzipan, pralines, and sweet plums were common Medieval sweets.
I learned all of this from a site called "The Food Timeline." It's a dense, but interesting, read.