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This seems a bit of a silly question to ask, but I'm a bit confused, so I'll ask for help. I was gifted a box of Hammond's assorted classic ribbon candy for the holidays. I've never been much of a fan of hard candy of any sort, but I was curious to at least try some of this gift. (I also don't think I've seen it in decades; my only vague recollection is of an elderly relative having some when I was a small child.)

I understand that ribbon candy is partly made the way it is for its appearance. But how is one supposed to eat it? The candy I have comes it rather large pieces: about 3.5 inches long and about an inch wide in the other dimensions. It's rather thick too. (A quick search online mentions that some of this type of candy can be thinner and more fragile.)

As the pieces were so huge, my first thought was to break off a curve or two of the ribbon, but it tends to shatter into lots of shards and makes a mess. Which led me to wonder whether one is just supposed to stick the end of a piece into your mouth and suck on it like a candy cane or something as it dissolves. Except, again, it's rather large and awkward to eat, and from its composition, it tends to get really sticky when held in the hand.

In the end, I took some of the shards I broke off and ate them, but some edges were sharp, so it wasn't really pleasant to leave it in my mouth as it dissolved.

I know this sounds silly, but is there a method people usually use to eat ribbon candy? If I were offered a piece at someone's house as a guest, what would I be expected to do with it when I consumed it?

As I said, I'm not a hard candy lover anyway, but at least most such candies I have consumed are small enough to place in your mouth as a single piece or are at least smooth and pleasant to eat more slowly (like a candy cane). This candy seems huge, but breaking it up seems to make a mess and sharp shards. (While keeping it whole both requires one to eat a huge piece and makes it very sticky to hold.)

Am I doing something wrong? Or is this candy really just made this way for appearance, not for a practical pleasant eating experience?

  • Wikipedia says you use it as decoration rather than actually eat it - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ribbon_candy - but as I've never heard of it before today, I'll leave it to someone else to cover an actual answer. – Tetsujin Dec 22 '19 at 18:18
  • @Tetsujin: I looked at the Wikipedia article before I posted the question. It says some people use it for decoration, but I don't think the article implies that you don't actually eat it. And if one doesn't eat it, it seems a rather odd holiday gift -- did someone give me a bunch of candy just to take out of the box and display in a candy dish? (Also, a cursory internet search had turned up at least anecdotes of some people who love it and had fond memories of eating it as children... hence my question.) – Athanasius Dec 22 '19 at 18:21
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    The article also says it's too big to eat & breaks into shards… I'm seeing it as a candy-floss problem. When you're 5 you don't care if it gets in your hair… by the time you're 30 you don't eat it any more. – Tetsujin Dec 22 '19 at 18:29
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    @Tetsujin: Well, I don't tend to put much stock into Wikipedia articles without sources anyway. But that description does accord with my experience so far. Good point about children not caring, though. I just wanted to be sure I wasn't missing something. – Athanasius Dec 22 '19 at 18:31
  • @Tetsujin: The other thing, though, is that candy-floss/cotton candy is partly about eating the unique texture. While I'm not going to buy some as an adult to eat, I do appreciate the weird melty experience I remember when I had it. However, I'm not sure there's anything different/unique about the candy I received compared to any other hard candy, other than that it's sharp, huge, and awkward to eat. (But maybe the fact that it's big alone is enough to appeal to some kids...) – Athanasius Dec 22 '19 at 18:42
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The ribbon candy that I've had (and made) is an inch wide but only maybe 1/4 inch thick. It is very easy to break off just half a bend that fits in the mouth. There might be some errant shards but not full-scale shattering.

The appeal of ribbon candy over other hard candy is the appearance. Even when it is meant to be eaten it is made to be looked at first. I find it conceivable, if a bit unfortunate, that your ribbon candy was not intended to be consumed.

Another possibility is that it might be old. Hard candy can be still somewhat pliable when it is fresh. Depending on the climate, candy can dry and become more brittle over time.

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