The History of Peanut Brittle Candy

According to the history of peanut brittle candy, brittle was probably the first candy ever made. Peanut brittle made with corn syrups and nuts began appearing in cookbooks around the 19th century.

Peanut Brittle History and Folklore
Because we find peanut brittle recipes most commonly in American cookbooks, it is generally recognized as an American recipe, but it's safe to assume that brittles, like pralines, have been made in all countries-or any country where sweet liquids such as molasses, honey, sugar or a variety of other sweets were available-for hundreds of years. Soft and hard nougat candies also would have arrived in the cookbooks somewhere along the same time.

As for the peanuts, peanuts became more popular in America during the Civil War. According to the National Peanut Board, soldiers who were fighting survived off peanuts. Once George Washington Carver began to reveal how many ways peanuts could be used in 1903, their popularity exploded, especially in the American South.

Perhaps due to the Southern connection, the history of peanut brittle is tied to Tony Beaver, a lumberjack folk hero. In the story, Tony Beaver creates peanut brittle when he stops a flood using peanuts and molasses. Not only does he save a town, but he also gives them a terrific snack.

Making Peanut Brittle
As gourmet candy goes, peanut brittle covered in chocolate is top on the charts. Then again, a simple peanut brittle made with Virginia peanuts might be even more delicious. Pecans, the top choice in nuts, also make for a delightful pecan brittle, especially when broken into bite-size bits and placed in a gift basket along with several other delicious brittles.

When making peanut brittle candy, the most important thing to remember is to use fresh baking soda and to know when to add the baking soda to the candy. The key is to add the baking soda once you have removed the candy from the heat. When making peanut brittle, make sure you use a kettle large enough to allow the candy to double in size once the baking soda has been added, because it will.

And, when you're enjoying the peanut brittle you just made, be sure to thank Tony Beaver.

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