This debate has been going on for decades, each side refusing to give in to the other. So, we thought we would share our two cents on this topic.
Is chocolate candy? The answer is both yes and no. It varies from product to product. Technically, there are only 2 factors that can exclude a product from being candy; if a product contains flour or is set in the fridge, it isn’t candy.
That being said, not all chocolates are set in the fridge or contain flour. But, candy also only consists primarily of sugar, while chocolate does not.
As you can see from only a few sentences, there are a ton of things to consider. This is why, in today’s article, we will be looking at every argument made for and against chocolate being considered candy.
We will consider the ingredients used, production methods, and characteristics of each of these sweet treats. There are loads to unpack here, so let’s jump right into it!
Is Chocolate Candy? – The Debate
Before we dive deep into exactly what chocolate and candy are, we felt it would make more sense to first explain the debate. This way you can weigh the sides before looking at the research that backs each argument.
Chocolate technically can be candy, but at the same time isn’t candy. Candy is defined as a confection that primarily consists of sugar.
Now, some chocolate products and bars do contain mostly sugar, which is why people argue that chocolate is candy.
However, other chocolates (also referred to as real chocolates) don’t necessarily contain sugar.
In fact, the higher the chocolate liquor content, the less sugar the chocolate bar contains. Some dark chocolate bars don’t even contain any sugar at all.
What Is Candy?
Let’s start with the definition of candy, considering that is what we are comparing chocolate to. Candy is also commonly referred to as sweets or lollies. These are confections that are globally made, primarily with sugar.
However, candy is merely a very broad category that encompasses other sweet confections like chewing gum, sugar candies, and yes, by definition, chocolate. But, again, we will discuss this part shortly.
Another common trait that defines these sugar confections is that they physically are also made of primarily sugar. This is what makes them different from things like cakes.
Cakes, pastries, and frostings can also contain large amounts of sugar, but they don’t have the same characteristics as a product made from almost only sugar.
Candies are also much smaller and can be eaten by hand. They aren’t necessarily meant to be shared with people, unlike cakes or loaves of bread.
And, they are definitely consumed more casually as compared to something like a pudding or cupcake. Candies are usually snacks or treats that are eaten between meals or on the go.
The consistency of candy is also very broad. This is because sugar melts and crystalizes at different temperatures. So, using the same recipe, you can create soft candies or hard candies.
And finally, candies have an extremely neutral flavor profile. Unflavored, they merely taste like sugar, maybe even caramel if the correct techniques were used.
So, this enables you to add virtually any flavoring extract, concentrate, or essence that you would like.
You can create extremely unique treats and even color them accordingly. For example, make an orange-flavored candy that is orange in color as well.
Debating The Definition Of Candy
Well, naturally, considering people are debating whether or not chocolate is candy, the definition is up for debate.
For this reason, you will often see that the same item is classified as candy in one part of the world, but in another, it is a dessert.
Another widely debated aspect of the definition is the type of sugar used. Today, there are many different forms of sweetener out there that aren’t a form of cane sugar. This can include honey, molasses, coconut sugar, xylitol, and erythritol.
Some of these sugar substitutes create different textures that aren’t close to what traditional hard candy has. So, the debate ensued.
What Is Chocolate?
Chocolate is a type of food product that consists of chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, and sometimes, added sweetener. The combination of these three components is what creates the three main categories of chocolate. This includes dark white chocolate, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate.
White chocolate contains only cocoa butter, milk, and sugar. It doesn’t contain any cocoa solids, the parts that give the chocolate a more bitter taste and dark brown color. White chocolate is completely white and very sweet.
Milk chocolate is a type of chocolate that contains cocoa butter, sugar, and a bit of cocoa solids, up to 34% actually. This makes milk chocolate less sweet than white chocolate, but sweeter than dark chocolate. This chocolate also has a dark brown color.
And finally, you get dark chocolate, which is also divided into a few different categories. Semi-sweet dark chocolate contains roughly 35-50% cocoa solids. Then, bittersweet chocolate contains at least 50% cocoa solids.
Finally, unsweetened chocolate contains around 95% cocoa solids and is extremely bitter.
For a more well-rounded view of chocolate and its production, here’s a video from TED-Ed all about the history of chocolate.
Chocolate Candy Bars
Now, while there are hundreds of plain chocolate slabs (even if they are flavored), there is a specific type of product that uses chocolate as a primary ingredient, accompanied by other sweets. This is something like a Kit Kat, a Mars bar, or a Hersey’s bar.
While the primary ingredient is chocolate, there are also a ton of candy-like ingredients inside that contain a ton of sugar! And here lies the main controversy.
In our opinion, chocolate bars aren’t all made the same. Something like a Lindt slab is completely different from a Snickers bar. So, they cannot be judged and compared in the same way.
In Our Opinion…
Candy is a very broad category of sweet treats. If you are thinking about clear glossy hard candies that are basically made from just sugar, then sure, chocolate doesn’t fit that description. These candies however do fit into their own category called sugar candy.
You also get another category of candy called caramel candies, which are almost exactly the same as sugar candies, but the sugar was heated to a different temperature to create an amber-colored caramel.
But, you can make marshmallows from virtually the same ingredients and they have completely different characteristics. However, marshmallows are still considered to be a sugar confection, or candy.
Do you see where we are going with this? The mere word “candy” can be applied to mean so many different categories that it is actually unfair to exclude chocolate candy bars from them.
Again, we don’t necessarily define solid chocolate bars as candy. But, as soon as they contain candy-like ingredients, biscuits, and creams, why can’t they be a type of candy?
This is why so many people call them candy bars or chocolate candy bars instead of just “chocolate” or “chocolate bars.”
So, to summarize, our opinion is that chocolate candy bars differ from solid chocolate bars. Furthermore, candy chocolate bars differ from sugar candy, but they are still a type of candy.
Chocolate Bars, Candy Bars, And Sugar Candy – The Differences
Now, there are arguably more differences between chocolate bars, chocolate candy bars, and sugar candy than there are similarities.
But again, nougat, marshmallow, toffee, and sugar candies are basically the same, but have very different characteristics.
Nevertheless, let’s have a look at the main and most noticeable differences between these three products.
The Main Ingredient
Solid chocolate bars aren’t a type of candy. They consist of a mixture of cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and some sugar.
The sugar is merely there to help sweeten the product, but it isn’t in any way a key ingredient. This mixture is also set into a solid block that can be broken into pieces.
Candy bars (or chocolate candy bars) use chocolate as the main ingredient but are always accompanied by other sweet treats.
This can include pieces of sugar candy, toffee, caramel, nougat, a marshmallow-like filling, a ganache, wafers, or biscuits. Candy bars are always incredibly sweet and contain a ton of sugar.
Sugar candy, as we have mentioned before, consists primarily of sugar or a sugar substitute.
Chocolate candy bars are usually smaller than solid chocolate bars but still require a few bites to finish. They are log-like in shape and range between roughly 2-8 inches (5-20cm) on average.
Sugar candy portions are bite-sizes, but can also be molded into lollipops or sugar canes. Yes, both of these are types of sugar candy!
The consistency of sugar candy itself varies quite a lot. It all depends on the stage you heat the sugar to and accompanying ingredients. Some additives will help the sugar candies set with a soft consistency instead of a rock-hard one.
With chocolate candy bars, the consistency can also vary quite a lot depending on the ingredients that the bar contains. But, candy bars do vary quite a lot in texture from sugar candies, regardless of their consistency.
Now, naturally, how each of these is made varies widely. We are only considering two differences when it comes to production.
The first is the four content. Often the definition of candy doesn’t include flour in the recipe. However, licorice contains flour and is regarded as candy.
Chocolate bars sometimes contain some form of flour, especially if the candy bars contain wafers or biscuits. However, many chocolate bars (including solid ones) don’t.
The second difference between the two is the setting process. Sugar candy doesn’t have to be refrigerated to set (harden). Candy bars usually have to be chilled to harden and properly set.
Now, let’s have a look at some similarities between candy bars and sugar candies.
While they do contain varying amounts of sugar, both sugar candy and chocolate candy bars contains some form of sugar, even if it doesn’t come from cane.
Today, you can find amazing sugar-alternative products that are often considered to be healthier.
Some of these include erythritol, xylitol, stevia Yacon syrup, and monk fruit sweetener. Now, it is important to note that any type of candy or chocolate made using these ingredients is generally much more expensive and harder to find.
Variety Of Flavors
Sugar candy, as we have mentioned before, can be flavored using extracts, concentrates, and essences. You can even create chocolate-flavored sugar candies! The same goes for chocolate.
White chocolate is the easiest to flavor and color because it basically just tastes like sugar (like sugar candies do).
However, it isn’t impossible to flavor milk and dark chocolate candy bars too. This can be done by adding other types of candy, but also by using essences and extracts.
Long Shelf Life
There are so many stabilizers and additives to these treats these days, especially when they are mass-produced, that they can last for a couple of years if stored correctly.
You can store both of these in a cool dark place away from any heat sources or sunlight. It is also important to keep them inside of an airtight container. This will help prevent them from absorbing moisture and changing their form entirely.
Both Are Unhealthy
Yes, that is quite a strange similarity to mention, but both these candies are very unhealthy, especially when not consumed moderately.
Sugar candy contains virtually no nutritional benefits. They are considered to only contain empty calories, meaning there aren’t any vitamins or minerals present.
Many people argue that chocolate isn’t purely empty calories, but in our opinion, this is only true for solid chocolate bars.
Chocolate candy bars contain virtually the same amount of calories as sugar candy. Both of these should be occasionally eaten and in moderation.
What makes chocolate candy?
Chocolate bars can be considered as candy because they contain large amounts of sugar, don’t contain flour, and can be flavored and colored.
While the primary ingredient isn’t necessarily sugar, these candy bars can also contain sugar candy products like toffee or caramels. Overall, the only type of chocolate that we don’t consider as candy is solid ones.
What isn’t considered to be candy?
Candy isn’t allowed to contain any flour and should also be set at room temperature.
As soon as they are set in the fridge, they cannot be defined as candy. However, most chocolates these days contain stabilizers that help them set at room temperature.
Furthermore, candy bar with biscuits (that contains flour) and toffee is still candy bar. At the end of the day, some factors outweigh others.
Is M&M’s candy or chocolate?
Again, these are considered to be both a chocolate and candy. The lines are a bit burry. M&M’s are made from chocolate which is coated with a thin sugar candy glaze.
However, they aren’t set in the fridge, they don’t contain flour, and they literally use pure sugar candy as an ingredient. So, that is why they are classified as both.
How does the U.S. define chocolate and candy?
Not only in the United States but in many parts of the world, sugar candy is referred to as sugar confectionery and chocolate is referred to as chocolate confectionery.
So, generally speaking, when people talk about candy, they refer to both chocolate and sugar products.