A wise elf once said, “We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup.” While you may or may not take Buddy the Elf’s dietary advise seriously, it’s hard to imagine a holiday season without sweet confections. Whether you are looking to stuff a stocking, fill a candy bowl, or decorate a gingerbread house, candy is an integral part of the holiday season. From colorful candy canes to Santa-shaped chocolates, candy is equal parts decorative and delicious this time of year. A recent survey conducted by a distinguished online bulk candy store of over 30,000 customers even identified America’s favorite holiday candy by state (you can browse the interactive map here). While the people of Georgia may prefer candy canes, and Californians can’t get enough chocolate peanut butter cups, holiday candy is loved universally. Below is just a snapshot of the food ingredients that turn candies into seasonal delights, year after year!
What would a candy cane be without its signature red and white stripe? Certified colors play an important role in food and beverages throughout the year, but the holiday season wouldn’t be the same without cheery, vibrant hues. Certified color additives, like the ones used to create the classic bright red stripes on candy canes, have been used in foods for over 50 years. They are also often used to balance and enhance colors that already occur naturally in foods. There are two types of food colors approved by the FDA – certified colors and those exempt from certification. Colors exempt from certification are derived from natural materials like vegetables and minerals, while certified colors are synthetically produced under strict safety conditions.
While no holiday is complete without candy canes and crystallized confections, you could say the same about freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and beautifully wrapped chocolates. From chocolate bars to chocolate truffles, if you check the ingredient list you’re most likely to see soy lecithin included. Lecithin is a type of fat typically derived from soybeans or eggs, and is used to improve the texture and mouthfeel of chocolate, allowing for the smooth, rich experience that consumers expect of the final product. In the case of soy lecithin, once beans are harvested, soybeans are crushed to produce a variety of products, including oil. Soy lecithin is produced by mixing soybean oil with hot water, and centrifuging the mixture to separate the lecithin. Over the holidays, soy lecithin helps your molded chocolates keep their shape and sheen, and ensures bell-shaped peanut butter cups have a substantial chocolate coating.