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What’s Behind the World’s Love Affair with Candy

It was 1965 when the Strangeloves charted with their iconic hit,I Want Candy. You may not actually remember the song, but it could be the theme song for the world’s love affair with all things candy. No matter where you go in the world, candy manufacturers make sweet treats to satisfy both young and old.

Truth be told, not all candy is necessarily super sweet. A lot of the Mexican candies you would find on the Chilito Loco website are actually somewhat spicy thanks to a heavy dose of chili powder. Other candies combine sweet, sour, or tangy flavors with chili powder heat. At any rate, spicy Mexican candy certainly has its followers.

Not the Main Thing

The one thing all candies have in common is that they are not the main thing at any meal. In other words, candy is an extra. It is a special treat. It may be a dessert after a big meal or a snack between meals, but no one sits down to eat a full meal consisting of candy alone.

Maybe that’s the secret. Perhaps that’s why people all over the world appreciate a good piece of candy. The fact that it is something special means it is something that we don’t get as often as we’d like. And just like absence makes the heart grow fonder, a limited amount of candy may make the tongue interpret it as being more delicious.

Candy Is Decadent

Another possibility is the decadence often associated with candy consumption. If something is decadent, it is somewhat forbidden. That just makes it more appealing. You know it’s true. The more you know you shouldn’t have something, the more you want it.

The decadence thing is in play when it comes to Valentine’s Day marketing, that’s for sure. After all, who doesn’t like a big box of chocolates from a romantic interest? Even beyond that, it is pretty common to associate candy with other types of foods we really shouldn’t eat yet still eat anyway.

The Sweet Tooth Factor

We cannot dismiss the ‘sweet tooth factor’ in any discussion looking to get to the root of the world’s love affair with candy. When a person says they have a sweet tooth, they are simply saying that they have a taste for sweet things. They find pleasure in them. Maybe that’s what the love affair with candy is really all about.

Candy represents pleasure. It represents something that you can enjoy in a way that is relatively harmless. Of course, candy isn’t so harmless if you overindulge. Too much candy can have an adverse effect on blood sugar, your weight, and other things. So it has to be enjoyed in moderation.

Maybe It’s a Learned Behavior

One last thing to consider is something that might not be so pleasant: perhaps the universal love of candy is more learned behavior than anything else. It is one thing to enjoy candy flavors, but it is an entirely different matter to obsess over them.

Could it be that we teach children to have a love affair of candy by encouraging a positive response when consuming it? And if so, could we encourage the same type of response with fruits and vegetables? It’s a question that child psychology experts have been trying to answer for years.

No matter the root causes, it is hard to deny that the world has a nearly universal love for candy. Whether sweet, sour, or even packed with spice and heat, candy has an appeal not matched by any other food. Does it really matter why we love it so much?