What is Rock Candy?
Rock candy is the product of the further refining by recrystallization of pure cane sugar. In fact, it is the purest form of sugar available, because all impurities are excluded as large crystals form. Crystal growth is based on the particular characteristics of sugar (sucrose) chemistry, and cannot be done with the various “sugar free” substitutes found in the market.
How is Rock Candy made?
Rock Candy is made by a process of crystallization, the same process that produces quartz and diamonds in nature – with a different ingredient, of course. It is made by breaking apart the sugar (sucrose) molecular crystal lattice and then allowing it to re-form in conditions that produce larger, purer crystals. A hot, saturated solution of cane sugar and water is poured into large tanks. Careful supervision of the cooling process produces the larger crystals, which are then harvested as Rock Candy sticks, strings, or loose crystals.
History of Rock Candy
For centuries, Rock Candy has been recognized as having marked therapeutic and preservative qualities. In fact, in the West, sugar was used only as a medicine or preservative until – in the middle of the 18th century - people “discovered” it made a sweet treat as well. The earliest known date that white sugar was refined was about 200 BC, so it is probable that the further refining into what was later known as “sugre candie” was at about that time.
There are many references to what we now call Rock Candy in literature. There are several references to it in the poems of the Persian poet Jalai-ad-Din Rumi, who lived in Turkey in the middle 1200’s. One early English reference in 1584 seems to sum up the virtues of Rock Candy where it is quoted “White sugar is not so good for phlegume, as that which is called Sugar Candie.” And Shakespeare, in Henry IV, (1596) referred to its therapeutic value as a throat soother for long winded talkers.
History of Dryden and Palmer Rock Candy
During the late 1800’s, there were several rock candy companies in the USA, including one formed in 1880 by the partnership of Charles Dryden and Noah Palmer. These companies supplied various forms of crystals and syrups as cough-cold remedies, soda fountain syrups, and delicious confections. In addition, vast amounts were used in saloons. Every bar had its own creation of “Rock & Rye” (Rock Candy dissolved in rye whiskey) ostensibly, of course, to cure their patrons’ colds – or at least to make them forget they had a cold in the first place!
Many different factors caused the rock candy industry to change. In the 1900's, both prescription and over-the-counter medicines started to use other active ingredients. But the biggest effect on the industry was Prohibition, which made alcohol consumption illegal everywhere between 1920 – 1933. During this time the rock candy industry failed, as it had become too dependent on sales to bars and saloons. The only company to survive the drought was Dryden & Palmer.
More changes kept coming, however. The syrup business that was a big part of the company at the end of the 19th century is almost entirely gone, as soda manufacturers switched to cheaper corn syrups. Always a company to rise to a challenge, however, Dryden & Palmer introduced Rock Candy on a stick in the 1960’s, then flavored and colored the sugar sticks in the 1970’s.
Today Dryden & Palmer Rock Candy products can be found in all fifty states, as well as in almost every country in the world. With an amazing range of the most popular colors, flavors, and product forms, D&P Rock Candy truly has something for Kids of all ages: from super-cool, intense- flavored lollipops; to unique party favors in your favorite colors for special celebrations; right down to swizzle sticks or edible stirrers for your favorite beverages.
Mr. Dryden and Mr. Palmer would be astonished to see the different flavors, colors and forms of the Rock Candy we produce today, but they would easily recognize the tradition of quality and service carried forward from their time.