Candy, also called sweets (British English) or lolly is a confection that features sugar as a principal ingredient. The category, called sugar confectionery, encompasses any sweet confection, including chocolate, chewing gum, and sugar candy. Vegetables, fruit, or nuts that have been glazed and coated with sugar are said to be candied.
Physically, candy is characterized by the use of a significant amount of sugar or sugar substitutes. Unlike a cake or loaf of bread that would be shared among many people, candies are usually made in smaller pieces. However, the definition of candy also depends upon how people treat the food. Unlike sweet pastries served for a dessert course at the end of a meal, candies are normally eaten casually, often with the fingers, as a snack between meals. Each culture has its ideas of what constitutes candy rather than dessert. The same food may be a candy in one culture and a dessert in another.
Sugar candies include hard candies, soft candies, caramels, marshmallows, taffy, and other candies whose principal ingredient is sugar. Commercially, sugar candies are often divided into groups according to the amount of sugar they contain and their chemical structure.
Hard-boiled candies made by the vacuum cooking process include stick candy, lemon drops, and horehound drops. Open-fire candy, like molasses taffy and cream taffy, is cooked in open kettles and then pulled. Pan work candies include nuts and other candies like jelly beans and sugar-coated almonds, made by coating with sugar in revolving copper kettles. Gum work candy is cooked in large kettles fashioned for melting and molded, dried, and sugared like gumdrops. They are soaked for a time in sugar syrup to allow crystals to form.