case 15 books onhome candy making

Candy Making at Home


These manuals for candy making at home, from the 1880s, were published at a time when candy was becoming ever more abundant and cheap. All of them betray some anxiety about adulterated, commercially produced candy and send the message that making candy at home keeps the family safe from the unwholesome commercial article. This was a period of widespread food adulteration scandals, part of the consumer agitation that ultimately led to the first federal Pure Food and Drug Act.


In an era when reformers tried to persuade parents to restrict children's purchase and consumption of candy, warning that it would lead to adult vices like tobacco and alcohol, these books seek to make candy safe by bringing it under control in the home sphere. They promote candy making as a wholesome pastime, testifying to its rise as a genteel leisure activity.


We also see a whisper of the Colonial Revival in these manuals: most contain recipes for "Old-fashioned Molasses Candy" — the only recipes in which refined sugar does not predominate. The Colonial Revival's nostalgia for a virtuously homespun past manifested here as well as in architecture, art, and landscaping.

Candy Making at Home: Containing Full Directions for Making in Your Own Kitchen About Two Hundred and Fifty Different Kinds ... by One Who Has Tried It. 1884

"Adulterated Confectionery—In raising adulteration to the dignity of a science, says the Boston Commercial Bulletin, the manufacturers of confectionery have done their part...The cheaper candies, of which hundreds of tons are sold every year, contain some of the most deadly poisons known..."


Woman pulling candy on a candy hook

G.V. Frye. The Housewife's Practical Candy Maker ...Especially Adapted for Manufacture in the American Kitchen by G.V. Frye 1889

"There is scarcely a mother in the land who does not feel proud in having a choice supply of pure candies on Christmas, New Year's or the birthday for the 'little ones' but it is often difficult to procure goods that are fresh and pure in our smaller cities and towns..."

Sarah Tyson Heston Rorer Home Candy Making 1889

Sarah Tyson Heston Rorer, pioneer of Dietetics and perhaps the best known cooking teacher of her time, published numerous cookbooks both general and specialized throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This candy book promises to guide the beginner through the simplest kinds of homemade confectionery.


"This little book is the result of careful practice in teaching beginners how to make attractive, wholesome, and palatable varieties of home-made candies...The aim has been to meet the wants of the masses, who, from various causes, cannot obtain the best confections..."

The Correct Art of Candy-making. 1894

"Children will have candy, but the confectionery offered in many of the shops is adulterated to such an extent, and often with such injurious substances, that it is very unwholesome. Therefore mothers will find it both to their own and their children's interest to make for the little ones wholesome and delicious candies..."