Where does 'candy' come from?

"Hardboileds, crunches, cracknels, humbugs, and glaciers...." wrote musing poet Dylan Thomas.

What was he naming? Candy! It has been around for at least 4,000 years, various sources claim, and at least 2,000 varieties exist today.

It was very likely the Greeks, who introduced the word into our language. It appears that a popular treat among Alexander the Great's troops was a Persian delicacy called kand - a tasty reed garnished with honey and spices.

The word "candy" probably came to us from this sweet that the troops brought home to Greece. But it could also have come from an old Arab word for sugar, quand.

The word candy first appeared in English as a compound noun, "sugar candy," in the 15th century, and it meant a kind of sugar that resulted from boiling and crystallization, hence the British "sweets of sugar candy."

The broader "candy" of America includes confections made with other ingredients, too, such as chocolate, fruits, and nuts.

SOURCES: 'Word Mysteries and Histories,' by the Editors of the American Heritage Dictionary; The Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins, by Robert Hendrickson: 'The Christmas Almanac,' by Natasha Fried and Lena Tabori.

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