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Candy Dots: What Are These Sugary Buttons, Anyway?

06/23/2013 11:26 pm ET
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Someone asked us recently, "What's the deal with candy dots?" We had to momentarily recalibrate our brains, because when we think of candy dots, we think of Dots, the gum-drops in the yellow box we feel nostalgic for, but never really want to eat. We soon realized that our inquirer was referring to what we think of as candy buttons (or button candy, or whatever you want to call them). So, candy dots, what is your deal anyway?

Their deal is this: in 1980, NECCO purchased the company that owned the Cumberland Valley brand, the original inventors of candy buttons (exact date seems to have eluded everyone on the internet, but the consensus seems to be that it was some time in the 1950s). After also purchasing the Candy House Candy Buttons brand in 1989, NECCO became the sole producer of these sugary dots on paper in the U.S.

We also discovered that candy buttons have three distinct flavors: cherry (pink), lime (blue) and lemon (yellow). Whoever decided to make the blue dot lime-flavored must have been fascinating, because that is one of the strangest choices we have ever heard of. We never knew candy buttons were any other flavor but "sweet," but it is entirely possible that we were just eating them too fast (and with too much paper stuck to the back) to notice.

Our most important and exciting candy button discovery, however, is that there are a ton of food bloggers who are already making their own candy buttons at home! This is brilliant for a few reasons: 1) you control what goes into them, so they don't have to be completely terrible for you, 2) you are no longer bound to the tyranny of the three flavors you just discovered make up the candy button roster. Vanilla candy buttons? Raspberry candy buttons? SOUR candy buttons? The possibilities are almost endless. You can get a great tutorial, as well as a homemade candy button recipe from Sandy Toes & Popsicles.

Lastly, let this young woman blow your mind with a trick for eating candy buttons, paper-backing free.

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