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Confectionery is the set of food items that are rich in sugar, any one or type of which is called a confection. Modern usage may include substances rich in artificial sweeteners as well. The word candy (U.S.), sweets (UK) or lolly (Australia) is also used for the extensive variety of confectionery.

Generally speaking, confections are low in nutritional value but rich in calories. Specially formulated chocolate has been manufactured in the past for military use as a high density food energy source.


Regional names

Different dialects of English use regional terms for confections:

  • In Britain, Ireland and some Commonwealth countries, sweets or more colloquially sweeties (particularly used by children, the Scottish Gaelic word suiteis is a derivative). In some parts of England, spogs, spice, joy joy and goodies are terms used, alongside sweets, to denote confectionery. In North-West England, especially Lancashire, toffees is often used as a generic term for all confectionery. Northeast England and the Scottish Borders commonly use the word ket (plural kets) and more recently chud, derivative of chuddy, a localised term for chewing gum.
  • In Australia and New Zealand, "lollies".
  • In North America, "candy" - although this term can also refer to a specific range of confectionery and does not include some items called confectionery (e.g. pastry) (See below and the separate article on candy.) "Sweets" is occasionally used, as well as "treat"


Confectionery items include sweets, lollipops, candy bars, chocolate, candy floss, and other sweet items of snack food. The term does not generally apply to cakes, biscuits, or puddings which require cutlery to consume, although exceptions such as petit fours or meringues exist. Speakers of American English do not refer to these items as "candy". See candy making for the stages of sugar-cooking.

Some of the categories and types of confectionery include the following:

  • Hard sweets: Based on sugars cooked to the hard-crack stage, including suckers (known as boiled sweets in British English), lollipops, jawbreakers (or gobstoppers), lemon drops, peppermint drops and disks, candy canes, rock candy, etc. These also include types often mixed with nuts such as brittle. Others contain flavorings including coffee such as Kopiko.
  • Fudge: A confection of milk and sugar boiled to the soft-ball stage. In the US, it tends to be chocolate-flavored.
  • Toffee (or Taffy or Tuffy): Based on sugars cooked to the soft-ball stage and then pulled to create an elastic texture. In British English, toffee can also refer to a harder substance also made from cooked sugars which resembles toffee.
  • Tablet. A crumbly milk-based soft and hard candy, based on sugars cooked to the soft-ball stage. Comes in several forms, such as wafers and heart shapes. Not to be confused with tableting, a method of candy production.
  • Liquorice: Containing extract of the liquorice root. Chewier and more resilient than gum/gelatin candies, but still designed for swallowing. For example, Liquorice allsorts. Has a similar taste to Star Anise.

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