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Confectionery Industry Workers

History

Confections have been made since ancient times. The word sugar may have come from Sanskrit, the ancient language of India. The word candy came from the Persian qand, which means sugar. Cane sugar has been used in the making of sweets since ancient times in the Far East. Its use gradually spread west; by the 1600s, the making of confections based on sugar was considered an art form through much of Europe. One of the world's most popular confections, chocolate, has its origins in Central and South America, where the cacao bean, from which chocolate is made, has been cultivated for thousands of years. Spanish explorers imported the bean to West Africa, where most of the world's supply of cacao bean is now produced.

Production of candies and other confections first took place on a large scale in England in the early 19th century. The American candy making industry grew rapidly during the second half of the 19th century.

By the turn of the 20th century, there were more than 1,000 American companies producing more than $60 million in candies each year. At that time, most candies were in the form of penny candy sweets. By the 1920s, when the first chocolate candy bars were introduced, the candy making industry was producing $500 million each year, employing more than 75,000 people. The use of machines and automated equipment in the candy making process has since reduced the number of people needed to produce candy. At the same time, the number of candy making firms has dropped, with many smaller firms consolidating into large corporations.