Candy, Chocolate & Gum Introductions
For many of us, some of our fondest childhood memories are closely linked to candy. Those Shabbos Oneg treats that we anticipated all week were always worth the wait. And remember the beloved "Candy man", the most popular guy in shul? How about all those special Simchas in shul like Of Rufs and Bar Mitzvahs where we all went scrambling on the floor to gather up the sweets that were flung towards the Baal Simcha. Candy always seemed to best express the joy of the moment or simply a job well done. The good news is that the appreciation of these delectable treats is not restricted only for the young. Adults too count candy as a very popular treat and gift as well as relying on it to satisfy a persistent "sweet tooth". Consumption of candy can be measured by the fact that it is a rapid growing and highly successful industry. Today, 11.8 pounds of candy per capita is consumed by Americans each year, with 65 percent of the candy being consumed by adults, 18 years and over.
There are many different types of candy that is produced today in the U.S. The range of candies available in today’s market include such treats as soft and tender golden caramels, elegant truffles and fudges, chewy licorice, sumptuous chocolates, mouth watering taffee and hard candy, as well as nougats, rolls, jelly beans and gum drops. The list is almost endless. Each of these candy delights have their own special quality about them, which makes them unique in their own way. We all have our favorites, however we must be vigilant about kashrus problems that are often connected to the manufacture of candy.
Candy is not "new" on the snack scene. Actually, the concept of candy came from ancient history where it was first invented as the discovery of honey from bee hives. Later on in history such ancient civilizations as the Egyptians and Chinese prepared their sugary treats by dipping nuts and fruit in honey. In the seventeenth century boiled sugar candies were enjoyed by the citizens of England who later introduced it to the American colonies. Originally, candy as we know it today was made in the kitchen of many houswives across the United States. They supervised their own manufacture of homemade candies to their families delight. They chose their own fresh wholesome ingredients and knew exactly what went into the final product. There was no question about the source of the milk, cream, sugar, nuts or chocolate that they used. Caramel was basically made from white or brown sugar, corn syrup, milk and/or cream, cooked slowly to allow the sugars and milk solids to carmelize. Fudge, on the other hand had to be handled by rapid cooling without stirring, then beaten until creamy, while toffee required a lot of attention while cooking to avoid separation of the butter and sugar. Basic and simple ingredients and processing.
Instead of producing a limited amount of old-fashioned candy varieties, over 1,200 modern-day candy companies produce over 2,000 varieties of confections. Today, with modern technology and the continued growing interest in sweets, large candy companies are competing to come up with the most interesting and new products on the market, thus complicating these simple procedures of the past.. Candies in the shape of baby’s pacifiers, leggo building blocks, candy "hair" that grows on top of a plastic head as well as rocket ships and nuggets that "pop" in your mouth have appeared in candy stores in the past few years, in addition to the old favorites. In order to produce some of these sugary creations, ingredients of a non-kosher source can often be used. Some of these problematic ingredients may include: flavors (such as grape), release agents, gelatin, glycerin, food coloring, monostearates, as well as emulsifiers and oils. Some of these "new-age" ingredients serve to extend the shelf life of candies, while others artificially enhance color or flavor. That is why it is important for the kosher consumer to
depend on the certification of candy by a reliable kosher certifying agency. Some candy companies even list "kosher gelatin" as one of the ingredients. This is often a grave kashrus problem and should always raise a red flag to the kosher consumer. Kosher gelatin usually refers to a lenient heter used by some Rabbis, but unacceptable to most orthodox Halachic authorities.
In addition to the actual ingredients themselves, there is always a concern about the utensils in which the candy was produced. For example, in the case of marshmallows, many of the marshmallows today contain treif gelatin. Even many that claim to be "kosher" are unacceptable to most orthodox Jews as they contain questionable "kosher" gelatin. Since the same company that manufactures these unacceptable gelatins may also produce a run of kosher (acceptable) marshmallows, the certifying agency must be careful that the mashgiach be on top of the kashering of these utensils from one run to the next.
In conclusion, while we have greatly benefited over the years from many additional types of candies, we are likewise faced with many additional problems. However, with so many companies vying for a larger share of the market, many companies have sought and obtained reliable kosher certification for their products. It is not uncommon to find Kosher candy from Brazil, Chile, China etc. As with all products, the candy must bear the certification on the individual wrapper or on the outside box. Many companies will do a special run for kosher, so that a store may have side by side some products kosher certified while others that seem to have the same ingredients are not kosher. With proper checking, there seems to be enough kosher sweets to satisfy even the most dedicated candy connoisseur.
Although most believe gum chewing to be an exclusively American custom based on the fact that the U.S. leads the world in total gum consumption, in fact the trail of gum chewers can be traced as far back as the ancient Greeks. They were known to be fond of chomping on a gummy substance named mastiche (meaning "to chew"), which was derived from the resin of the mastic tree. The Greek physician, Dioscorides, even wrote about this favorite pastime, referring to the "curative powers" of the mastic.
Further down in history, the American Indians of New England were also found to have enjoyed this custom when they chewed gum made from the resin of the spruce tree. This fad grew until, during the early nineteenth century, the first gum that was produced (lumps of spruce gum) were sold retail. Gradually, spruce gum was replaced by paraffin wax gum. Due to problems with paraffin (it needed the moisture of the mouth to transform it into chewable gum) newer and more usable bases were eventually instituted. One such example was a chicle based product. This was discovered by Thomas Adams, who got the idea from General Santa Anna, a famous Mexican general in the mid 1800’s. In addition to chicle, other trees have also contributed their latex to the gum industry, however, chicle has remained the most popular gum base. In addition to the base, some other common ingredients in gum are corn syrup, sugar and flavoring agents.
In 1939, when the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was passed, chewing gum was classified as a food– and rightly so. Approximately two-thirds of a stick of gum is swallowed and enters the digestive tract. Chewing gum manufacturers managed to secure an exemption from the labeling requirements for foods because it is impractical to list 25 ingredients on a package as small as the one that gum comes in. As many as 15 natural and synthetic ingredients are lumped together as gum base. Soon after 1939, another dozen or so ingredients were allowed to be designated softeners, and the F.D.A. itself suggested the reduction in the labeling of the sweeteners in gum. Incredibly, the F.D.A. also allowed gum manufacturers to not list sugar (60 percent of the average stick of gum) in the first position in the ingredient list, a common requirement for most products. Consequently, the typical gum wrapper ingredient listing reads: "Made of gum base, sugar, corn syrups, flavor, and softeners." Only two of the more than 40 ingredients are recognizable. Some of the ingredients that do not appear on the label are: chicquilul, crown gum, masaranduba chocolate, residinha, ehilte, glycerin ester of partially hydrogenated wood resin, sodium stearate, potassium stearate, sodium sulphate, sodium sulfide. The two stearate ingredients are of special kashrus concern: stearates usually are animal derivatives.
The kosher consumer cannot tell what ingredients go into the gum from the wrapper, and therefore the only reliable rule is to avoid gums that are not known to be kosher. However, today the kosher consumer has more choices in the retail gum market than ever before. In the past, in order to be assured that the gum one chewed was in fact kosher, it had to be purchased in a kosher market. Today the kosher consumer can find regular gum as well as bubble gum in most non-kosher markets and retail stores. Some examples of this are Cannells gum (Hashgacha from Mexico - Rabbi Leberson) as well as the Concord Co. (from Canada) which include such brands as Double Bubble and Big Chew (under the O/U).
The following is a letter from Wrigley written to a kosher consumer’s request for information about the kosher status of their product.
August 1, 2001
Dear Mr. ..........
Thank you for writing to ask about the kosher status of Wrigley’s gum in the United States. We appreciate your interest in our brands.
At one time, in the U.S., most Wrigley products were made with vegetable or mineral derived softening ingredients that conformed to Jewish dietary regulations. For many years, we had also been able to maintain rabbinical supervision of our factories when delivery of these ingredients to us could be guaranteed. The L.S. Dreyfus Co., the chewing gum base manufacturing subsidiary of the Wrigley Co., still has rabbinical supervision for its gum base, which is the essential ingredient in chewing gum. They supply chewing gum base to all Wrigley operations and to other chewing gum manufactures around the world.
In the U.S., the availability of vegetable and mineral derived softeners has decreased over the years as major suppliers for synthetic material have closed their manufacturing facilities. Since we can no longer guarantee that all Wrigley brands from all of our factories will always be kosher, we have discontinued absolute assurance of our use of kosher ingredients.
Further, in the U.S., because vegetable/mineral derived softeners are generally blended with non-vegetable/mineral derived softeners, we cannot determine their exact origin any more than we can determine if the sugar used in our brands comes from cane or beet sources. Our primary goal is to manufacture a product that is safe, wholesome and meets domestic and international government food regulations. With those regulations in hand, we test the ingredients we purchase to assure their safety and purity.
Considering the conscientious efforts we have made over the years to maintain kosher status of all our brands, we regret having to relinquish it. While we will continue to use kosher ingredients whenever and wherever practical, under present conditions we cannot give continuous assurance of the kosher status of our products in the U.S.
We are sorry that our product may not always be acceptable for your diet. However, we appreciate your writint to the Wrigley Co. so that we can give you the facts. Thank you again for your interest.
Consumner Affairs Coordinator
Candy & Chocolate Trivia
- Cocoa Bean plantations are always located within 20 degrees of the equator. The healthy growth of the cocoa bean requires a temperature of over 60 degrees F. and a rain forest-like atmosphere where "midges" thrive, for they are the only insects that pollinate the tiny flower of the coffee bean tree.
- Cacao trees begin producing fruit when they are between 4 to 5 years old. They tend to be quite delicate, and need protection from wind, while requiring a fair amount of shade.
- The cocoa bean grows in a pod on the tree and is harvested twice a year.
- The pods are sliced open with a machete and the beans scooped out and left to dry out in the sun.
- An average cocoa tree produces only one or two pounds of dried beans a year because the beans can lose up to 50 percent of their weight during the drying process.
- We owe the smooth texture of chocolate that we now enjoy to a man by the name of Rodolphe Lindt, who invented something called "conching". Lindt increased the amount of cocoa butter in the chocolate that he manufactured. In his conching machine the enriched liquor was blended over a longer period of time than ever before. The result was a creamier, smoother chocolate that we enjoy today.
- The first milk chocolate was created in 1875 with the use of condensed milk. Today, dried milk is used in the production of milk chocolate.
- The first "candy" was discovered by men from ancient civilizations, who ate honey from bee hives.
- In Europe, during Middle Ages, the high cost of sugar made candy a delicacy only accessable to the very wealthy.
- The simplest form of candy is made by dissolving sugar in water. Different heating temperatures determine the type of candy, for example: very hot temperatures make hard candy, while medium heat makes soft candy and the coolest temperatures produce chewy candy.
- The candy industry really "took off" in the early 19th century with the discovery of sugar beet juice and the invention of advanced mechanical appliances. Hard candies became very popular, especially in America during that time.
- Today, Americans consume 11.8 pounds of sugar candy per capita every year.
- Seven billion pounds of chocolate and candy are manufactured every year in the U.S.
- The famous M&M candy came about to encourage people who often stopped buying chocolate in the summer months because of the heat melting the chocolate. This new, coated chocolate candy was advertised as being summer-friendly for use by even the neatest of consumers. That is where their famous slogan originated "Melts in your mouth, not in your hands". M&M’s Plain Chocolate Candies were introduced in 1941.
- The world’s largest bubble every blown from a piece of gum was 23 inches in diameter.
- Americans chew an average of 2 lbs of gum per person per year. That amount of gum is enough to form a stick that would reach to the moon and back six times.
- One airline spent $7,000 to remove gum from the bottom of the plane’s seats.
- Liquefied bubble gum is an effective insecticide. The bugs chew on it and their jaws stick together and as a result they starve to death.
- 50% of gum sold today is mint flavored. The only flavor gum that has never been perfected is chocolate.
- 20% of gum sold is bubble gum.
- Double Bubble gum used to be called "Glibber Blubber".
- Admiral Byrd brought a large amount of gum on his trip to the South Pole to help calm his nerves.
- During WWII gum chewing among military personnel was 6 times greater than for civilians. It was a substitute for toothbrushes, it increased morale, reduced tension and promoted alertness.
- Some African tribes have been known to trade gum for a wife.
- Turkey has the most gum manufacturing companies with the U.S. in second place.
- It is illegal to sell gum in Singapore
- Cinnamon, spearmint and peppermint are the most popular flavors of gum today.
- The first bubble gum cards were introduced in the 1930’s. In those days the pictures included war heroes, wild west figures and professional athletes.
- In San Luis Obispo, Ca. there is a wall where people are encouraged to stick their already chewed gum. It is called "gum alley" and people have made intricate designs and spelled out messages on that brick wall with their gum wads.
- Helpful Hint: To remove gum from clothing and furniture rub an ice cube over the gum to freeze it. Then simply chip away at the frozen gum and remove it easily in frozen form. Many say that rubbing alcohol or fingernail polish remover also work in a similar fashion to ice cubes.
- Some even swear that kneading a small amount of peanut butter between your fingers and the gum will allow the gum to disperse enough to remove it.
- Archaelogists have discovered chewed pieces of tree resin when they unearthed prehistoric artifacts. We can therefore assume that our ancient ancestors were the original inventors of "chewing gum".
- The ancient Greeks also chewed tree resin. It helped clean their teeth (by stimulating the flow of saliva whick cleans the teeth and cuts down on cavities) and freshen their breath.
- Over 1,000 years ago the Mayan Indians chewed chicle gum in Central America.
- The first commercial chewing gum was manufactured in 1848 by John Curtis and his brother in the state of Maine. It was called Pure Spruce Gum and was made on top of a Franklin stove. Back then, one penny bought two pieces of gum. Eventually, the Curtis Chewing Gum Co. had 200 employees in a three story facility.
- The first official patent for chewing gum was issued in 1869 to William Semple, a dentist from Mount Vernon, Ohio.
- In 1871 Thomas Adams (a photographer and inventor) patented a gum-producing machine to make gum in large quantities. In addition, he added licorice flavor to his gum and came up with the very popular gum called "Black Jack". Soon after that Adams created a Tutti-Frutti flavored chewing gum. His gum was the first to be sold in vending machines.
- Bubble gum got its "pink" look when Walter Diemer (an employee of the Frank Fleer Gum Co.) devised a successful bubble gum formula in 1928. The first batch ended up pink because that was the only color handy and Diemer wanted to make it more eye-appealing by coloring it. Most bubble gum every since has been pink in color.
- William Wrigley spent over $300,000 in advertising for his gum. He believed that "Anybody can make gum. The problem is selling it". His advertising campaign was a great success. In addition, he sent coupons for free boxes of gum and sales tripled. By 1910, William Wrigley’s gum was the most popular gum in the nation. He even made great profits during wartime and depressions based on his accurate theory that people chew even more gum when they’re sad or depressed. This theory turned out to be true, as sales during wars and depression soared.