Candy Civil War Style

Everyone loves candy, and people during the Civil War period were no different. Recipe books of the time feature numerous recipes for sweets of all kinds. Mrs. Cowan’s American Lady’s Cookbook (1847) includes recipes for coconut, lemon, rose, horehound, and rock candy as well as peppermints and molasses twists.

Commercial candy was also widely enjoyed. Peppermint sticks, licorice, lollipops, Jordan almonds, and jelly beans were sold in most general stores. In 1847, Oliver Chase invented the first lozenge cutting machine and produced the first penny candy, called hub wafers, (renamed NECCO wafers in 1901 when the Chase Company merged in to the New England Confectionary Company.

These proved highly popular with soldiers because they were small in size, hard to break, and didn’t spoil. During the Civil War (and later WWI and WW2), they were issued as part of soldier’s rations.

Interested in tasting Civil War candy?

Here is a recipe from Mrs. Cowan’s for you to try.

COCOANUT [sic] CARE OR CANDY. Take cocoanut meat from the shell, pare off the black rind and grate it on a coarse grater, or chip it fine, have half a pound of it; to half a pound of loaf sugar, put two tablespoonfuls of water; when it is dissolved put it over the fire, let it become boiling hot, then stir in the cocoanut, continue to stir it until it is thick, take care not to burn it; pour it on a well buttered pan or marble slab, cut it in whatever forms you think proper when nearly cold. pp. 321-322

Too busy to make your own? Give NECCO wafers a try. They are still sold in wax paper-wrapped packages in the all-natural, original flavors of orange, lemon, lime, clove, chocolate, cinnamon, licorice, and wintergreen.

Learn more about the history of 19th century candy

The Retro Candy Timeline

The History of Candy

Necco Wafers


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