I ask again: What defines “candy”?

A few weeks back, I asked the basic question of “just what the hell makes up candy?” There was some mulling about in the comment section, and a few of you suggested (and one said very definitively) that:

Sugar, no flour = candy

sugar + flour = pastry

Coincidentally, this is close to the definition of candy that the state of Washington (my home state) is giving to candy as well, as they go down the road of taxation of any and all candy bars. House Bill 2388, page 8 provides this definition:

“Candy” means a preparation of sugar, honey, or other natural or artificial sweeteners in combination with chocolate, fruits, nuts, or other ingredients or flavorings in the form of bars, drops, or pieces. “Candy” does not include any preparation containing flour and does not require refrigeration.

The problem here, as any candy aficionado would point out, is that there are several candies out there where flour plays a vital ingredient.

First that comes to mind is Halva, a Middle Eastern candy that one can find in a few select stores throughout the city (I can get some a mere two blocks away from my house at the Husky Deli in West Seattle). The whole raison d’etre is to combine flour and sugar, and it is, most assuredly, candy.

“But Kate!”, I can hear some of you thinking, “Halva is for Muslims and hippies, and 95% of the country hasn’t heard of it anyways. Who cares if Halva is taxed or not?”

To them I say, “Okay, what about…


The ingredient list for Twizzlers includes the following:

Corn Syrup , Flour , Sugar , Cornstarch , Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil 2% or Less , Salt 2% or Less , Artificial Flavorings 2% or Less , Citric Acid 2% or Less , Potassium Sorbate 2% or Less – a Preservative , Artificial Coloring 2% or Less – Includes Red 40…

I see you shifting uncomfortably in your seats there. You’re probably thinking “Yeah, okay. But people who eat Twizzlers are always a little off anyways. They don’t really count.”

Uh-huh. And what about fans of


Milk Chocolate , Sugar , Cocoa Butter , Chocolate , Skim Milk , Lactose , Milkfat , Soy Lecithin , PGPR , Artificial Flavors , Sugar , Enriched Flour , Flour , Niacin , Reduced Iron , Thiamine Mononitrate , Riboflavin , Folic Acid , Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil , Corn Syrup , Skim Milk , Dextrose , Lactose Less Than 2% , Salt Less Than 2% , Cocoa Powder Less Than 2% , Baking Soda Less Than 2% , Soy Lecithin Less Than 2% , Artificial Flavor Less Than 2%.

“…Uh..Well, it’s the cookie, not the chocolate…”

Then there’s


Sugar, Flour, Cocoa Butter, Nonfat Milk, Chocolate, Refined Palm Kernel Oil, Lactose, Milk Fat…

The point here isn’t to prove that I was right in my belief of defining what constitutes candy is difficult, but to point out that candy really is a product with no clear definition. As more and more states look to tax candy in order to bring in income during these times of budget shortfalls, the more we’re going to have to pay attention to what the government decides what is candy and what is not. Because if state governments decide that candy doesn’t have flour in it, you can bet within five years we’re going to see more candies with flour in them.

(h/t Slog)