How Candy is Made and Bonbons and Confections, articles from 1892 LA Times and the 1897 NY Times  

The Los Angeles Times, December 18, 1892, p.13:


Contributed to The Times.

    The art and mystery of candy-making is one that in former days was easily summed up. Its essential elements used to be skill and sugar. But very many other things enter into candy fin de seicle.
    Flowers and fruit add flavor and fragrance, and color too, to simple sweetness. The berry tribe--the strawberry and raspberry--blush anew in pink bon bons.
    Pistachio nuts supply green, dark or light. Annatto, the root of butter color, is the source of yellow, as cochineal is of scarlet.

    Fine candies are made from the best refined sugar. It is put, a barrel at a time, into big, deep copper kettles, with more or less water, according to the consistency of the candy to be made of the syrup.

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    The cooking is done by steam, which is turned into the jacket two-thirds hight around the kettles and soon has everything inside hissing hot without danger of burning. These candy kettles are watched all the time, and the steam shut off the very instant the syrup is cooked enough.
    If it is to be creamed, it goes to the creaming mill, where big curved iron arms, moved also by steam, whirl and toss it until it is a white foamy mass. If colored cream is wanted, the clear candy, before undergoing the creamery process, has been turned out on a large marble slab, and coloring matter and flavoring kneaded through it.
    The cream is packed down in big earthen vats and carefully covered with damp cloths until it is to be "made up." Usually that time is some distance ahead. Nobody quite knows the reason, but cream in bulk improves mightily by keeping. Indeed, in a great manufactory, you might see tons of it stored. This, however, is not surprising when you remember that any one of the leading candy makers uses over half a ton of chocolate daily, with sugar and other things in proportion.


    Cream is usually "made up" on a steam table, in which a dozen small kettles are sunk. In these kettles the cream is heated and worked to a thick, smooth liquid, viscidly adherent to whatever is thrust within it.

    Two girls at one end of the steam table are dipping walnuts. One has a pile of kernels at her elbow, a twisted loop of wire in her hand. She lays at kernel on the loop, dips it down under the thick, pink surface of her kettle, withdraws it, and drops it on a coarse sleeve beside her. One swift, deft turn of wrist and fingers has done it all.
    The nuts now go to her companion. They are shapeless oblong bits, the yellow skin showing here and there through the pink jacket. Each is again set in a looped wire, goes down again into the thick pinkness, and comes up nearly doubled in size. A quick wrist motion sets it down on a white paper, where other pink bon bons stand in rows. The looped wire is though is not abruptly withdrawn. Instead, it slips along up to the top, drawing the warm candy with it in two faint horns, then it is turned slowly over and is taken away, leaving a truly artistic curlicue by way of finish. The process is the same with all creamed nuts, also with creamed dates.


    Glace bon bons, all except the very finest, are first molded in starch. It is made as fine as dust and packed smooth and hard in light wooden trays. Next the plastic shapes or molds, made fast to strips of wood, are pressed down into this fine packed starch, where they leave a perfect imprint. Into these "prints" candy warm enough to be fluid is poured quickly and left to harden. If it is cream it is a little thinner than that used for "dipping" nuts.

    For wine candies liquor is mixed with syrup cooked to the point of crystallization. It is the same with marsh-mallow and the various gum-pastes.

    As soon as the candies have "set," the trays pass into the drying room, which is heated by steam to a degree that evaporates some of the water in the syrup and forms a hard outer crust. The trays are taken out of the room again as soon as that point is reached.
    When they are thoroughly cold the bon bons are picked out and laid in a tray of wire netting. Then a man with a bellows plays upon them until all this white dusty starch-blanket is blown away. Next they are crystallized, which is accomplished by spreading them out thin and shaking hot sugar thickly over them. Without this crust they would soon lose shape and resolve themselves back into their elemental sweet.

    The ways of "finishing up" candies are legion, as various almost as the individual tastes of the makers. Novelty counts for a good deal almost anywhere. In the candy trade it is a source of success. Some of the moulded candies are rolled in finely ground nuts. Some are varnished with hot syrup. Some are stuck all over with tiny beads of perfume.


    But the bulk of bon bons are dipped in chocolate. That is what happens nine times out of ten, no matter what the beginning. And every bit of chocolate-dipping is hand work. No machine yet invented comes up to human fingers.
    The girls sit in rows, each with her pot of melted chocolate before her, and plunge and plunge the white balls that come out so darkly, lusciously brown, until the eye wearies in watching their rapid motion. Skill and speed count. It is piece work, all of it. She who is idle or clumsy earns small wages...

    Almond candies are among the most interesting, as they are likewise among the most toothsome. Almond paste, the foundation of the very costliest bon bons, is a branch of candy-making wholly apart. To make it special machinery is required, and the maker in general does nothing else. Large general candy-makers buy of him at wholesale.

    But creamed, chocolate and glace almonds all begin the same way. First, the nuts are blanched by scalding in hot water, then run through a winnowing machine to remove the hulls. Then the almonds are put by the bushel into huge conical copper pots swung at an angle of 45 and so arranged as to be revolved rapidly by a steam gearing at the bottom.
    Steam also keeps the pot warm, while thick, white syrup is poured over the almonds, that are kept whirling, whirling, until the sugar lies thick and white all over each kernel. After that they are creamed or they are dipped in chocolate, perhaps both. Filberts and Brazil nuts fare the same way.

    For nougat, finely chopped nuts of several sorts are worked into a paste made of sugar, chocolate and white of egg. Nut bar is made by covering mixed kernels with caramel mixture and slicing while soft.

    Very many candies, especially those of satiny surface, are stamped between dies. The candy, flavored and colored, lies in a long roll on a marble slab, with a hooded gas flame to keep it warm enough to work. It is drawn out to a small round; a quick knife cuts off a length that the next minute has been caught betwixt iron jaws and turned to squares and rounds or whatever shapes you please. Now it is satinettes, now it is lemon or orange slices, which look and taste true to name.
    The small chocolate wafers are stamped out of chocolate paste. Clam shells are stamped from almond paste, and peach and plum pits are cut from chocolate cream.

    Caramels are made from soft sugar cream and butter cooked barely enough to handle, and flavored with chocolate, maple sugar or molasses. The mass is stirred soft and grainy on a marble slab and then chilled to allow of cutting into squares.

    The storeroom for extracts and essences used in flavoring candies is interesting. Fruit juices sit cheek by jowl with essential oils, and all sorts of fragrant waters hob-nob with the imprisoned souls of twice ten thousand flowers. Rose, violet, jasmine, bellotrope, frangipani, millefleurs divide honors fairly with strawberry and cinnamon, lemon and wintergreen.

    Last, and best of all, let it be set down, that in candy-making cleanliness rules. The kettles shine like the sun at noon. All the slabs and spoons and sieves and trays, even the floors themselves, are kept spotlessly neat, and the workers, men and women, one and all, invariably wear white caps and aprons.

The New York Times, February 21, 1897, p.12:


How They Are Made--
The Man Milliner Makes Anna Held Hats of Sugar--Preparing Chocolate.


Actresses and Sleeping Beauties, Horses and Lovelorn Men in Frozen Sweetness.

    It is easy to make candy.
    There are receipts in every cookbook, and the veriest novice in cooking will have at her tongue's end a dozen or more ways of making the most delicious confections, and they are all warranted not to fall.

    The home manufacturer, however, does not usually say confections. Candy is a good home word. Bonbons come from the shops. There are bonbons and bonbons, and there is candy and candy. Some of the candy is very good and some of the bonbons are very much better.

    There is candy that finds its way from the hands of home cooks, sometimes, to church fairs and the like, which reminds the kind-hearted purchaser strongly of youthful days when there was nothing so delicious as homemade ice cream. The snow was not fine grained, and there was occasionally a lump into which neither flavoring nor sugar had penetrated. But then the next mouthful tasted better by contrast.

    But snow ice cream belongs to youthful days, when novelty breeds a healthy appetite. Homemade candy is not now so much in favor.

A Bonbon Manufactory.

    In the basement below a big Fifth Avenue establishment is the department where confections of all kinds are made, and a visit to it gives an idea of how the work is done. Mr. Sherry took a reporter from The New York Times down into this region of sweets the other day. There was a feeling of expectancy on the way down the stairs and through the hallway toward a closed door. What would be seen when the door should be opened?
    Would there be a crystal palace of candy, translucent towers, rainbow-colored walls, and transparent window panes, all of sugar, like the buildings in the fairy tales?

    Then the door opened, and there--was a matter-of-fact engine room. That was what it looked like to an uninitiated stranger. Nothing but machinery, apparently, and in a place where everything is made by hand.

    That was the first glance. The second showed, further along, the man milliner--said to be one of the best artists in town--trimming Anna Held hats. The artificial flower artist is following in the wake of the man milliner--not for the hat--and further on were men and women engaged in the more ordinary occupation of dipping chocolates and sugaring cherries.

    A half a dozen different things run into each other in a bonbon establishment. Anna Held will never wear the pretty little pink hat with plumes that the man milliner was making, though it was dainty enough to fit the locks of a more ethereal damsel than the etoile de Paris...

Small Confections.

    In another room filled with large marble-topped tables men and women were at work making different small confections. One girl sat with a little dish of white spheres before her and a dish of liquid chocolate. She had a little instrument with a bowed wire at the end just large enough so that the ball of cream would not slip through, and with this she dipped each chocolate and set it on the paper besider her.

    Every bonbon is made by hand. There is a little fold of the chocolate over the top. That is its trademark, so to speak. A machine-made chocolate will be perfectly smooth.

    A man sat at another table with a pile of brandied cherries before him and a dish of creamy looking pink paste. One by one he dipped the cherries into the mixture and put them down to harden.
    There were lots of green mint drops standing near, diamond-shaped confections, bearing the imprint of a leaf and filled inside with a liquid strongly flavored with mint. From some of them the starch had been blown away, and others showed a soft powdering of it. The starch is the medium by means of which the different confections are molded.

    There are molds in the shape of the bonbons, a dozen or more of them secured in a row to a slender stick. The dry starch is arranged smoothly in a box, and with the molds row after row of impressions is made in it, and into these the mixture of whatever bonbon is to be made is dropped and the box of starch is put away until after they have hardened.
    Then they are taken out, the starch blown away, and the finishing treatment given them. There is a starch room, with what looks like a set of tubs of starch, which is sifted and used over and over again.

    There is a hot room where liquids are kept hot and soft, a cold room where things are cooled and stored when they are completed. A fan is used in the cold room in Summer to assist in some of the cooling processes. In the hot room is the machine which works out the cocoa butter.

Chocolate and Machinery.

    That leads to the chocolate and the machinery. The chocolate in its primitive condition most people know little about. It is in the form of a bean when it reaches the confectioner, not as large as a paper-shelled almond, and with a crisp papery shell.

    These beans go into a roaster, and are roasted very much as the coffee bean is roasted. From there they go into another machine, and are crushed, and again into a hopper, and the outside, or cocoa shell, is separated from the chocolate after the manner in which wheat is separated from the chaff.

    There is another machine revolving in opposite ways, with a great granite block, in which the chocolate and sugar are combined, and still another into which the mass of sweetened chocolate is placed to be refined, and through which it passes again and again until it is of the most delicately smooth consistency. Then we go back to the butter machine.

    In all chocolate there is to be found cocoa butter. In some confections there is a greater, and in some a less, proportion of it. In some of the finest clear chocolate bonbons there is not only the proportion of cocoa butter which belongs to that proportion of chocolate, but more. In some forms of chocolate there is less.

    In this cocoa butter machine the product is removed and used for the different varieties of chocolate as desired.

    One of the requirements in preparing chocolates is the management of the heat. There must not be too high or too low a degree of heat. If not properly treated, the chocolate will become gray instead of showing the rich chocolate color which is natural to it...

Designs in Cream and Confectionery.

    ...The cream and confectionery designs have often some special thought or motif expressed in them. For a dinner or luncheon they are arranged to express the general idea of the entertainment or of special thoughts for the individual guests.

    "Lillian Russell came in last week," the proprietor, to give an idea of the origin of designs, "and said that she was going to give a dinner, and asked what she could have for ices.
    "'There is only one thing for you now, Miss Russell,' I said, 'you must have the American Beauty,' and she had it just as she appears on the bills--the roses, with a head of Lillian Russell in each one, and it was a very good likeness.
    "On the wedding cake when she was married to Perugini, I put her as the Princess Nicotine, in the wedding costume of the play, on the top.

    "A dinner for Della Fox, when she was playing in The Little Trooper, was more difficult to manage. It was finally arranged by having the little trooper standing on a raised platform with the ices as baskets of flowers at her feet.
    "Ellen Terry came out to perfection as the fair Rosamond in a bower of roses at one time, and at another there was Irving in the first act of Faust as Mephistopheles, with the big kettle, the little devils around, and all complete..."

    All these confections play an important part in the social life of a city like New York, and there is more to them than the general public generally knows.
See also:
Chocolate, Candy & Snack Shops
QuickShop Coffee & Tea
QuickShop Food
QuickShop Kitchen & Dining

Classic Chocolate Articles:
Chocolate & Pretty Girls 1892
Cacao & Cocoa in Ecuador 1899
The Charm of Chocolate 1920
Cocoa in Dutch Guiana 1876
Cocoa in Guatemala 1888

Classic Candy & Snack Articles:
How Candy is Made 1892 & 1897
Homemade Candy 1896 & 1903
3 Articles on Popcorn 1897-1913

Classic Sugar Articles:
Indian Maple Sugar 1891
Louisiana Sugar Cane 1896
Maple Sugar Time 1897
Vermont Maple Sugar 1904
The Snare of Sugar 1920
Sugar in Guadeloupe 1888

Purdy’s Chocolates
Candy Warehouse

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