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Sweets (A History of candy)

3.27  ·  Rating Details  ·  136 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
It is a truth universally acknowledged that everyone loves sweets. However keen we might be on fine cheese, vintage wine or acorn-fed Iberian ham, much of the time we'd be happier with a Curly-Wurly. But why do we like sweets so much? Why is there such an enormous variety of types, a whole uncharted gastronomy in itself? And where do they all come from?

Many of the sweets w
Hardcover, 392 pages
Published February 18th 2002 by MJF Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 331)
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Jul 26, 2013 Sarah rated it liked it
I am a candy store owner, and as such, I try to read at least one candy-themed book a year. This was my candy book for 2013. I was a bit wary, due to some of the more negative/critical reviews here, and I recall (but can’t specifically find) a less than glowing mention on The Candy Blog. However, I did not realize until I physically had the book in hand, that the author was British. His candy world view is therefore a bit different from we Americans’. I did not notice a problem with commas, or l ...more
If I retain even half the information in this book, I'd be surprised. He spends a long time on the history of the sugar trade and the early uses of it, which gets a little dry and repetitive, but then it picks up again once he starts getting into the chronology of candy.

Biggest quibbles: how impressed the author was with himself (how many times did he refer to himself as an "international confectionery historian"?), and the lack of serial commas. I understand that this book was published in Engl
Deborah J.
First of all, in spite of the fact that I don't eat too many sweets anymore, and I have a low physical tolerance of sugar, I am very envious of the the journey Tim Richardson had taken to 'research and test' - and later write about - sweets.

I had originally bought the book thinking it was the history of sugar, or maybe even desserts, but it's actually about what we Americans refer to as 'candy'. Nevertheless, in spite of my weak relationship with sweets, I found the topic interesting enough to b
Aaron Fust
Sweets: A History of Candy was an educational and entertaining nonfiction work about, and also written by, Tim Richardson, a so-called candy connoisseur, who traveled around the world and explored the origin of candy. Richardson starts by examining sweets at the molecular level and what makes them appealing to people. In addition to this, there is also an uncovering of where and when candy originated, the differences in candies throughout the world, and how distinct candies became popular. Then ...more
Dec 12, 2012 Allison rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was pretty dull and not very well organized. A few pictures to depict the candies and sweets he was describing would have been helpful. It's repetitive and took me a long time to get through because of it. My favorite factoid was that someone invented what was called a "Borne Sucker Machine" :)
Jul 08, 2009 Rory rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was..dare I say...kinda boring. And way too British for an American candy-lover (candy's something that, if you love it, you also love the vocabulary of it...and you want the cultural details to match up!).
Nov 08, 2007 Meave rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charming and informative, adorable!
Oct 23, 2009 Emily rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This should have been called either: 'A History of Sugar' or 'A History Focused on British Candy'. It was sooooooo boring. I, a person who loves loves loves candy/sugar/chocolate and books about such, was bored out of my mind. The book had detailed lists of how much sugar was taken on trips by kings in the 1600s and other blah blah blah stuff.

I think that if I was British or had ever been to England, that maybe I would have been more intrigued. But when the author goes on and on about wonderful,
I love both making sweets, especially toffee, fudges, flavoured fondant creams (esp. chocolate coated), and Edinburgh rock; but I struggled with this disappointing history. Maybe a sweet of the past elicits only sadness of that which is gone forever; so the only good sweet is a confection of the present?

I suspect too that chocolate is a very personal taste. Like fine wine, somebody else’s tasting notes on chocolate are utterly useless to me, because we clearly do not share the same childhood con
Aug 28, 2012 April rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I picked this up at a library book sale and was very pleasantly surprised. I love the author's wit and humor. I found myself laughing a lot. There was just enough detail without it being overdone and boring. He covers the very beginning of candy or "sweets" 100's of years ago, right through to the present day. He covers sweets from almost every continent in detail including some bakery-type sweets.

Because the author is British, he wrote a lot about British candies (rhubarb and custards, rock, et
David Hebblethwaite
I’m partial to a bit of quirky social or cultural history; so much the better if, like Joe Moran’s On Roads, it can reach a little deeper than its immediate subject. Sweets is not on the same level as Moran’s book – perhaps inevitably, given that its subject matter is rather frivolous – but it is fun and interesting.

Tim Richardson takes a broadly chronological approach, with brief asides to focus on particular kinds of sweet. I find the book’s account of the early history of sweets a little dry
Jul 05, 2010 Susannah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps I have very high standards both for food writing and for historical writing, but this was disappointing. I started it years ago and put it down and then picked it up again as bedtime reading. It's a weird mixture of personal anecdote/opinion, history and description. Normally I would like such a grab bag of genres but I lost the chronology in the mix and the 'story' wasn't compelling enough to create it's own thread. The parameters of his topic seem very fuzzy and I sometimes wasn't cert ...more
Rogue Reader
Nov 29, 2014 Rogue Reader rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Comprehensive and exhaustive treatment of candy and anything sweet. International in scope, there is particular focus on British candy. Richardson is obsessed with candy, craving it and eating voraciously. He must, after all, sample the wares. Good bibliography and index. Highly recommended.

--Ashland Mystery

Jennifer Quail
Jun 07, 2012 Jennifer Quail rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everything you ever wanted to know about candy! While it probably loses something for an American reader, as much of the history is Anglo-centric, it's still a fascinating trip through humanity's love affair with sugar. Though it did lead to my ill-advised attempt to recreate Scottish rock at home. (Hint: Bad idea if you have an only-moderately-accurate candy thermometer and no patience.)
Feb 19, 2009 Sharon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Took me more than a year to read; last 100 pages easier than the first 200. Thick with detail and anecdote and history, hard core facts. Candymakers are curious! And what a business! I feel much more informed about something I took for granted, sweets! Curious that I finished reading "Sweets" on Valentine's Day!
Jul 30, 2007 Erica rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While this wasn't a bad read, the style was staid and the material got fairly redundant. You've got to be really interested in candy to sit down and read this straight through. It's not bad to pick up and put down on occasion, though. To be honest, I'm not sure I completely finished it.

It's very British.
Feb 01, 2009 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, food, history
Thoroughly enjoyable, from start to finish. I started reading "Sweets" while I was waiting for a plane in Baltimore. By the second page, I was wandering the airport in search of a sweet. Tim Richardson truly is a lover of candy, and his passion comes across loud and clear--it's infectious!
Sep 21, 2008 Liz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book on a whim in a used book store and I found myself really enjoying it. After reading his chapter on Toblerones I craved them for about three months and I still fervently desire to get myself some rose flavored turisk paste.
Jan 09, 2010 Sally rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, skimmed
Love the fonts, chapter headers and title page styles. It's like reading a Farrell's menu!


Didn't finish - fairly dense material! Was in the mood for lighter material, I suppose; nougat as opposed to gobstoppers! lol
Kelly Bolin
Oct 28, 2013 Kelly Bolin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
There seemed to be a lot of interesting information in here but the author did his best to make it extremely dry, and with his writing style (that seemed to jump all over within chapters) it was a difficult read.
Feb 13, 2010 Vintagebarrio rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not for the faint of heart. It's a seriously dense read, but worth it if you really love the subject. Generally funny. Fascinating research. Slightly tedious at points, but exhaustive.
May 06, 2010 Paige rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food-books
Writing is okay, but as a true lover of candy, this book was a treat. It's about the history of candy marketing, manufacture, and (naturally) consumption. This is the kind of nonfiction I can handle.
Diane Cameron
I'm afraid I lost interest in this one. I thought it might be more fun that it was. Actually it turns out I'm really not that interested in the history of sweets. Oh well.
Jan 08, 2011 Michael rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cooking
Claiming to be the first international history of the manufacture and of course eating of confectionery.

A bit repetitive in places, but it was an interesting read.
More of a global focus than (the American) "Candyfreak" - gets kind of bogged down in historical detail, but rallies at the end for a view of "sweets around the world".
Nicole G.
Jan 05, 2008 Nicole G. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007
There are actually candy historians! A well-written, fun look at candy around the world, from its inception to the present day.
Lauren Church
Oct 25, 2014 Lauren Church rated it did not like it
Shelves: i-gave-up
gave up on page 30. I loved Candyfreak but this is really boring. and I love history and candy. who knew.
Dec 15, 2011 Annie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
i love non-fiction and I love candy, but I thought this book was a total snooze.
Feb 01, 2014 Monica rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Informative, but dry.
Yael marked it as to-read
Jun 16, 2016
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