Although the people in Regency England couldn’t enjoy one of those yummy caramel and milk chocolate squares made from Ghirardelli, there were other sweets available at the time.
Making ice cream was an expensive process, since hauling and storing giant blocks of ice was an arduous chore that began in the freezing winter months. Cut ice was stored in an icehouse, which was dug deeply enough underground to allow the ice to remain frozen during the summer months. Since ice cutting, transporting, and storing were laborious, this made the cost of ice very high. So only the affluent with icehouses consumed ice cream.
In the 19th century, Italian Swiss entrepreneur, Carlo Gatti, began to import great quantities of ice into London from Norway, in turn making ice more affordable. He is credited as the first to make ice cream available to the general public. In turn, confectioner shops in London began offering ices and ice cream to their customers. Ices were often flavored with flowers, like violets, orange flowers, roses, etc. One of the most famous confectioners, and the one mentioned in my books, is Gunter’s Tea Shop (Originally established in 1757 and called The Pot and Pineapple). Gunter’s was considered a fashionable light eatery in Mayfair, and known for its ices and sorbets. Located on the east side of Berkeley Square, Gunter’s became a trendy place for a gentleman to take the lady he was courting. Gunter’s was the only establishment where a lady could visit alone, without a chaperone or relative, and no harm would come to her reputation.
Chocolate was introduced to Europe from Central America in the 16th century.
A Frenchman established the first chocolate house in London in 1657, but the chocolate was made into a beverage. During Regency England, the higher classes often enjoyed hot chocolate in the morning with breakfast.
There were some chocolate candies available at the time, like the conserve of chocolate, which is like fudge. They also had flat discs of bitter chocolate that were covered with nonpareils. Due to the bitterness of chocolate, new techniques were used to improve the texture and taste. Chocolate was used in baking chocolate rolls and cakes, but it wasn’t until revolutionized approaches to better the quality, did companies like Cadbury begin to sell boxed chocolates in England in 1868. The first chocolate bar was made in 1847, but milk chocolate wasn’t made until 1875.
Sweetmeats (which simply means sweet food.)
Marzipan candies were introduced to England in the late Middle Ages. Marzipan is made from ground almonds, sugar, and usually rose water. They were often served at the end of a meal and were displayed as centerpieces at a gathering or upon the dessert table. Marzipan could be sculpted to make animals, people, castles, etc., nowadays it’s often molded to resemble fruit.
Licorice was used as a medicinal plant for centuries, until in 1760 when Englishman, George Dunhill, added some sugar and turned it into a sweet. Made by hand, this treat was expensive until after the Industrial Revolution.
Chewy caramels were available in the 18th century, along with toffee, taffy, spun sugar, and butterscotch. These were not necessarily made the way they are made today, and taffy pulls weren’t invented until the 1840’s.
Dried fruits, gingerbread, sugared almonds, and jellied fruits were enjoyed in England since the Middle Ages.
A special thank you to https://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/category/regency-food/, englishhistorianauthors.com, and http://www.localhistories.org/sweets.html