Confectionery, also called sweets or candy, is sweet food. The term varies among English-speaking countries. In general, though, confectionery is divided into two broad and somewhat overlapping categories, bakers' confections and sugar confections.
Bakers' confectionery, also called flour confections, includes principally sweet pastries, cakes, and similar baked goods. In the Middle East and Asia, flour-based confections are more dominant.
Sugar confectionery includes sweets, candied nuts, chocolates, chewing gum and bubblegum, sweetmeats, pastillage, and other confections that are made primarily of sugar. In some cases, chocolate confections (confections made of chocolate) are treated as a separate category, as are sugar-free versions of sugar confections. The words candy (US and Canada), sweets (UK and Ireland), and lollies (Australia and New Zealand) are common words for the most common varieties of sugar confectionery.
The confectionery industry also includes specialized training schools and extensive historical records. Traditional confectionery goes back to ancient times, and continued to be eaten through the Middle Ages into the modern era.
Generally, confections are low in micronutrients and protein but high in calories. They may be fat-free foods, although some confections, especially fried doughs, are high-fat foods. Many confections are considered empty calories.
Specially formulated chocolate has been manufactured in the past for military use as a high-density food energy source.
Confections are defined by the presence of sweeteners. These are usually sugars, but it is possible to buy sugar-free sweets, such as sugar-free peppermints. The most common sweetener for home cooking is table sugar, which is chemically a disaccharide containing bothglucoseand fructose. Hydrolysis of sucrose gives a mixture called invert sugar, which is sweeter and is also a common commercial ingredient. Finally confections, especially commercial ones, are sweetened by a variety of syrups obtained by hydrolysis of starch. These sweeteners include all types of corn syrup.
Bakers' confectionery includes sweet baked goods, especially those that are served for the dessert course. Bakers' confections are sweet foods that feature flour as a main ingredient and are baked. Major categories include cakes, sweet pastries, doughnuts, scones, and cookies.
The United Nations' International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities (ISIC) scheme (revision 4) classifies both chocolate and sugar confectionery as ISIC 1073, which includes the manufacture of chocolate and chocolate confectionery; sugar confectionery proper (caramels, cachous, nougats, fondant, white chocolate), chewing gum, preserving fruit, nuts, fruit peels, and making confectionery lozenges and pastilles.
In the European Union, the Statistical Classification of Economic Activities in the European Community (NACE) scheme (revision 2) matches the UN classification, under code number 10.82. In the United States, the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS 2012) splits sugar confectionery across three categories: National industry code 311340 for all non-chocolate confectionery manufacturing, 311351 for chocolate and confectionery manufacturing from cacao beans, and national industry 311352 for confectionery manufacturing from purchased chocolate. Ice cream and sorbet are classified with dairy products under ISIC 1050, NACE 10.52, and NAICS 311520.
Different dialects of English use regional terms for sugar 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 Australia and New Zealand, lollies. Chewy and Chuddy are Australian slang for chewing gum.
- In North America, candy, although this term generally refers to a specific range of confectionery and does not include some items of sugar confectionery (e.g. ice cream). Sweet is occasionally used, as well as treat.
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