Do you know your confectionery from your confectionary?

Posted on 28th August, 2013

Although we see it spelt both ways on a regular basis, Hancocks are most definitely a wholesaler of confectionery as in fact confectionary is a common misspelling; it is so common that it actually appears in several dictionaries as a place where confections are kept and made.  However according to the Oxford English Dictionary confectionery is the correct spelling for both ‘a shop that sells sweets and chocolates’ and ‘sweets and chocolates considered collectively’.  Confused?  Well read on for a short history of confectionery, where you will see numerous examples of the correct use of confectionery!

In the 18th century the confectioner was a highly regarded craftsman who was seen to be so skilful that he was considered to be far elevated above that of a cook or baker. The confectionery created in this time was well respected by the upper classes and was not only used as a  dessert but as extravagant decoration. Many confectioners ran their own shops offering a wide variety of spectacular treats including sweetmeats, marshmallows, biscuits, macaroons and much more. They also provided a variety of fashionable table pieces made from glass and porcelain that could be hired or bought which enabled aristocrats to wow their guests at lavish soirees. Even in these early days confectioners were selling their products wholesale to household staff who wanted to please their employers with an appealing array of confectionery.

During this time candied fruits were frequently being made in England.  To make these candies or ‘rock works’ as they were more commonly known, the confectioner needed to wash the syrup from previously preserved fruits with warm water and then dry them in a stove. The candies were then rolled in powdered sugar or given a frosted coating. The 17th and 18th century are considered the greatest period of experimentation in the confectionery  history of England, this was the time when sugar was becoming widely available across the country and confectioners were developing new and inventive products to wow their customers.

We have these sugar pioneers to thank for creating such an extensive and exciting array of confectionery that was the inspiration for the enormous range of chocolate and sweets available to buy today.


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