I keep seeing them in old European paintings from 16th - 17th century. I think they still must exist present days.

White irregular shaped sweets on the left hand side.

enter image description here

  • 2
    The choice is limited, they are obviously not wafers, marzipan or candied fruit. I think they might be comfits - sugared spices or herbs such as aniseed - used to sweeten the breath.
    – user23614
    Dec 11, 2015 at 18:53
  • The 'P' shaped bit kinda reminds be of speculaas or maybe bastogne cookies, but it could really be anything. If that's the case, it's likely from the Netherlands or Belgium ... and the Dutch do like salty licorice. (but it's not table salt ... it's ammonium chloride)
    – Joe
    Dec 11, 2015 at 19:43
  • It'd probably help if you provided context about the paintings. For example, that one is by Clara Peeters, so it's definitely Dutch.
    – Cascabel
    Dec 11, 2015 at 19:49
  • Also the painting is from 1607, not the 16th century, in case that matters - it looks like it was probably toward the beginning of the period where sugar and spices were available there, so fancy desserts like this were relatively new and a kind of big deal.
    – Cascabel
    Dec 11, 2015 at 20:00
  • 2
    1. Those look silver to me, not white. 2. I want those glasses. 3. Does something similar appear in another painting? More points of view might help with the identification.
    – Marti
    Dec 11, 2015 at 20:58

2 Answers 2


I think user23614's comment is correct. They're ragged comfits, sugar coated seeds or spices.

These two paintings by the German painter Georg Flegel, have similar objects depicted, and are described by two different sources (Sugar-Plums and Comfits, Sugar Plums Demystified) as being ragged comfits:

Painting of Still Life by Georg Flegel

Painting of Still Life with Candy by Georg Flegel

They're apparently not very common these days, surviving in the form Pistoia confetti, also known as birignoccoluto. They're apparently primarily given out as treats at weddings. Coincidentally the Clara Peeters painting you're asking about may be, according to one interpretation, depicting the ragged comfits as a treat at a wedding.

  • Yep, they do sure look like birignoccoluto or comfits! One more mystery solved lol Dec 11, 2015 at 22:52

They are still made in the Azores, with sugar and fennel seeds.

The Portuguese name of the contemporary candy is Confeitos de Funcho.

  • they look nothing like the ones in the question, are you sure it's the same?
    – Luciano
    Jan 23, 2020 at 10:07
  • @Luciano to me they do look the same, but under a very different lighting. Just irregular "balls" of hard white sugar crust around a filling.
    – rumtscho
    Jan 23, 2020 at 19:19

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