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The History of Sweets (Hardback)

P&S History Social History Colour Books

By Paul Chrystal
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 144
Illustrations: 32 colour illustrations
ISBN: 9781526778857
Published: 30th January 2021

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RRP £19.99

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We all know our sweets. We all remember sweets – objects of pure delight and the endless cause of squabbles, fights even, hoarding and swapping; a chance to gorge, suck, crunch and chew. But they’re by no means just a nostalgic thing of days past, and it’s not only children who love and devour sweets – gobstoppers, bulls eyes, liquorice, seaside rock, bubble gum and the like; grown-ups of all ages are partial to a good humbug, or a lemon sherbet or two – in the car, (annoyingly) at the cinema or while out walking – wherever and whenever, the sweet is there, the sweet delivers and the sweet rarely disappoints.

Sweets then are ubiquitous and enduring; they cross age, culture and gender boundaries and they have been around, it seems, forever. This book tells the story of sweets from their primitive beginnings to their place today as a billion pound commodity with its sophisticated, seductive packaging and sales, advertising and marketing. It explores the people’s favourites, past and present; but there is also a dark side to sweets – and this book does not shy away from the deleterious effect on health as manifested in obesity, tooth decay and diabetes. It delves into sweet and lollyshops in supermarkets and markets, retro sweet shops, fudge makers, vintage sweets on line, sweet manufacturing, chocolate, the grey line between sweets and ‘medicines’ ancient and modern. It goes round the world sucking, licking and crunching sweets from different countries and cultures and it examines how immigrants from all nations have changed our own sweet world.

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 Paul Chrystal

About Paul Chrystal

Paul Chrystal has classics degrees from the Universities of Hull and Southampton; he is the author of 100 or so books, a number of which are about confectionery and beverages. 


He has written features on aspects of the history of food and drink for the Daily Express and he has appeared on the BBC World Service, Radio 4’s PM programme and various BBC local radio stations talking on a wide range of subjects, but notably confectionery. Paul has also contributed to a six-part series for BBC2 ‘celebrating the history of some of Britain’s most iconic craft industries’ – in this case chocolate in York. He has been history advisor for a number of York tourist attractions relating to chocolate. He is editor of York Historian, the journal of the Yorkshire Architectural and York Archaeological Society. In 2019 he was also guest speaker for the Vassar College (New York) London Programme with Goldsmith University.

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