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Halloween Fact of the Day #7
Halloween Fact of the Day #7
The history of Candy Apples, according to www.foodtimeline.org/foodcandy.html#candiedapples
The practice of coating fruit in sugar syrup dates to ancient times. Honey and sugar were used as preserving agents. Food historians generally agree that toffee apples (a.k.a. taffy apples, caramel candied apples) probably date to the late 19th century, although difficult to prove in print. Both toffee and caramel are traced to the early decades of the 18th century. Inexpensive toffee/caramels became available by the end of the 19th century. Culinary evidence confirms a variety of recipes, from simple candy to creamy toffee/caramel coating.
"Toffee apple. A popular confection on Britain, especially in the autumn, when they used to be prominent, with their vivid red color, at autumn fairs. A whole, fresh apple, on a thin stick, is dipped in a high-boiled sugar syrup which has been colored red; and allowed to set before wrapping in cellophane. The Oxford English Dictionary gives on quotations relating to toffee apples earlier than the beginning of the 20th century. However, the use of the term as a soldier's slang for a type of bomb used in the first World War suggests that they were already well known, and probably have a longer history than the quotations allow. In the phrase toffee apple' the word toffee' means simple boiled sugar, not the mixture of sugar and dairy produce which is what the word usually refers to. This may be another indication of an older origin of the toffee apple...There is some similarity between toffee apples and the Chinese dessert items which consist of pieces of banana or apple fried in batter and then coated in a caramelized syrup. Whether there is any historical connection is not clear."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press: Oxford] 1999 (p. 79
"Toffee-apples seem to be an early twentieth-century invention; they are first mentioned in the Christmas 1917 issue of the BEF Times."
---An A-Z of Food and Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press: Oxford] 2002 (p. 345)
Mrs. D.A. Lincoln's Boston Cooking School Cook Book  provides instructions for "Candied or Crystallized Fruit of Nuts" which approximates the formula described by Mr. Davidson. It does not, however, mention the use of red coloring or apples.
The oldest recipe we have for toffee apples is this:
"Apples on a stick.
Take small apples and stick in each one at the top, a small wooden skewer, such as butchers use to pin roasts. Now cook a batch of Molasses Taffy to 280 degrees F. Then dip the apple in the hot batch so as to cover it completely. Let the surplus syrup drip off, then stand them on a slab until cold."
---Rigby's Reliable Candy Teacher, W.O. Rigby, 19th edition [USA] 1919? (p. 215)
[NOTE: this book contains two recipes for molasses taffy, p. 144 and 145.]