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The Secret Jewish History Of Those Kosher Fruit Jelly Slices

The foods associated with Passover confound modern processed food manufacturers because they notably have to be kosher, but also have to contain no leavening. While changing recipes for one week's supply of food is not worth it for the largest food suppliers, small businesses fill in the gaps. There's an exception, though- candy. And no candy has become more closely associated with Passover than jellied fruit slices. They are kosher and Passover-ready any time of the year. To see why they became traditional for Passover (after all, the Hebrews did not have them), we need to know the history of the candy and how it is made. 

The fruit jelly slice is an American product invented sometime between the two World Wars in either Winnipeg, Manitoba, or in Boston (two companies claim to have invented it). The shape of the jelly, like the shape of the McDonald’s McRib, pays homage to something that it is not. That something happens to be the candied fruit, grandfather of all modern confections.

First, though, we need to know a little bit about sugar, and the first thing we need to know is that sugar is extremely difficult to work with. Even though it’s been cultivated in small amounts for 8,000 years, refining sugar is so laborious that creating it without government support was next to impossible. The first states with the resources for sugar production were Islamic. For centuries, European sugar was all imported; it wasn’t until the late 14th century that it was manufactured locally, and even then quality varied widely from batch to batch.

Whether you celebrate Passover or not, you'll learn something about the history of candy and sugar itself at Forward. -via Metafilter

Bonus: Make your own jellied fruit candy.

(Image credit: michael clarke stuff)

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