Sep 21, 2016

Etymology Expeditions: I Want Candy

Up this week: all things sugary and sweet!

The name cotton candy is fairly self-explanatory, from cotton+candy, but it has many fun names like fairy floss, candy floss, spider webs, and candy cobwebs. Although spun sugar has been around from the 1500s, machine-spun cotton candy was invented in 1897 by the dentist William Morrison. (A dentist. Irony much?) My favourite name for cotton candy is the French one, though: la barbe à papa, "papa's beard." In Finnish it's hattara, like a fluffy cloud.

A sourball meant "a constantly grumbling person" in the 1900s before it became the name of a candy 1914.

Tootsie roll is from tootsie, the baby-talk substitution for "foot".

Did you know that Pez dispensers have been around since 1956? The name comes from German pfefferminz meaning peppermint. The company that made them was Austrian, so that's probably the reason. The first Pez were peppermint-flavoured, then, I guess?

Gob-stopper comes from the English word gob, meaning mouth. On a related note, jaw-breaker meant a hard-to-pronounce word before it became a candy.

Lollipop is a mixture of loll "to dangle (the tongue)" and pop "strike, slap." Another theory has the loll part coming from the northern dialectal lolly, a word for tongue.

 Are you teeth aching yet? Okay, I think that's enough for today.


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