Our second season is gearing up and we want to start sharing some ideas to add sparkle and conversation to your holiday tables.
Although Clear Toy Candy is thought to be only a 'Winter/Christmas" treat, it can easily be adapted to suit a festive autumnal place setting.
We will be offering non-traditional colors in the coming months to help with your Thanksgiving and seasonal plans.
We are looking forward to making more beautiful and nostalgic candies for you.
In 2017, I was given my first piece of Clear Toy candy ( also known as Barley Candy) as a Christmas gift. It was a beautiful 7" tall, intricately detailed reindeer that appeared to be made of sparkling transparent green glass, inside of a crisp cellophane bag. I had never heard of Clear Toy candy, but as its history was then explained to me, I was totally hooked on the childhood nostalgia associated with this very early confectionery art form. I can imagine the sheer joy that children felt a century ago, in finding these sparkling little candies that were left just for them by Christkind, Father Christmas, Santa Clause or the Easter Bunny. Loving everything Christmas and reminiscent of a bygone era, I knew that I needed to know more about this tradition and how they were made.
Over the next few years, I researched anything that I could find about the candy, as well as the mold manufacturers, sugar recipe and history throughout the last 100+ years. I began to purchase molds as I could find them. My knowledge is strengthening as I continue to search for original antique molds and make the classic candy. As I shared my new obsession with friends, I began to hear all the stories from folks who remember the candy as a kid, or heard about it from their parents. I used these sugar treats as part of my tablescape when entertaining and it never failed to open the discussion of what candies my guests grew up with and remember. What started out as a strong desire to be part of the few remaining confectionery houses and independent family candy makers who make the candy, ended up in my creating the Toy Lion Confectionery.
Not all of the molds that I use are antiques. I would say that 99% of my current clear toy mold collection dates back to mid to late 1800's, while the aluminum German Rote Zuckerhase rabbits could be as current as the 1930's and 1940's. The original designs from the Thomas Mills and Brothers were of every day items and people. That is what the children played with and enjoyed at the turn of the century. There were not a lot of designs specifically for Christmas. This cast iron set (pictured) is dated 1994, and is manufactured by the John Wright Company and is a great addition to the antiques. They were made with the modern home candy maker in mind. If you are decorating a tree in antique candies, it's great to have a couple of Santas, candy canes and nutcrackers.
Historically, clear Toy Candy was only produced during the cold and dry months of winter and early spring because the sugar naturally becomes cloudy and opaque in humid conditions. It slowly looses the characteristic luster. It is recommended that you consume these candies within 60 days of purchase, in order to enjoy the candy at its freshest. If you want to keep your candy clear as long as possible, keep it sealed tightly in the cellophane bag and in the refrigerator or freezer, however the candy is not intended to last for a long period of time once the dry winter months fade away. Just enjoy it and know that you can continue to get it on line. Please remember to keep all bags, ribbons and twist-ties away from children, after opening your candy.
Clear Toy Candy was first colored naturally using plant material such as beets or spinach, and was produced in only three basic colors ( red, green, and the natural golden yellow of the cooked sugar) I use only FDA approved food coloring. The traditional candy had no flavoring added and therefore tastes similar to cotton candy. There are some makers of Clear Toy today who add flavorings, but at this point, I want to keep the original recipe and flavor in tact. I use olive oil to lubricate the molds during the production, due to the lack of any aftertaste that would interfere with the flavor of the candy.
Note: I am careful to use only molds that were either manufactured by the Thomas Mills and Brothers foundry ( made of cast iron or a tin and zinc alloy called "Composition") or aluminum replications of the original antique molds.
I receive many inquiries about the taste of the clear toy candy and if it is the same as the barley pops or candy that folks remember as children.
Toy Lion Confectionery makes “Clear Toy” which is a term given to these candies because children would play with these hard sugar shapes, after finding them in their Christmas stockings. They would then be rinsed off and eaten at the end of the day.
The terms “Barley Sugar Candy” and “ Clear Toy Candy” are often intermixed but there is a difference.
As I understand it, “ Barley Candy“ came first because barley sugar was the most common and affordable sugar available. This gave the candy a distinctive and slight barley flavor.
Once cane sugar became affordable and plentiful to consumers, it replaced the barley sugar in the candy recipe. It did not affect the appearance or characteristics of the candy, but did alter the taste from barley to more of a cotton candy flavor.
Barley sugar is still available, and either it, or barley oil/flavoring is added to traditional barley candy. Many makers of barley pops still use either ingredient, and will call their products “ barley candy”.
Toy Lion Confectionery uses only pure cane sugar without any barley flavorings.
Oiling the molds with olive oil
9" tall majestic stag mold from a German manufacturer. Mold number 980.
Note, this mold is part of the Zuckerhasen tradition ( to be cast hollow) but here is cast solid as Clear toy.
Along with Clear Toy candies, Rote Zuckerhasen was produced in Germany specifically for the Easter holiday. The aluminum molds varied slightly and did not have a flat bottom. This was due to the fact that these candies are hollow and once filled they were emptied and cooled upright.
Rote Zuckenhase are very fragile and their protection during shipment can not be guaranteed. We would be as disappointed as you, should your purchase arrive damaged, and for this reason, they will not be available for on-line purchase at this time.
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