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The History of Caramel and Candy Apples

Caramel and candy apples are fair and festival staples enjoyed by children and adults alike, especially around this time of year. As gourmet candy-coated apples become more popular, these traditional fall treats are increasingly enjoyed year-round with other concession foods. Are they the same? Not quite. While candy and caramel apples may appear pretty similar, they have distinct histories. Let’s compare them, “apples to apples.”

History of the Candy Apple

Newark, New Jersey candy-maker William W. Kolb is said to have invented the red candy apple in 1908. As the story goes, Kolb first combined candy and apples when experimenting with red cinnamon candy he was selling for Christmas. Kolb dipped some apples in the red cinnamon mixture and put them in his shop window, for sale at 5 cents each. Soon, candy apples were sold at the Jersey shore and later at circuses and candy shops nationwide.

History of the Caramel Apple

Caramel apples were invented many years after the candy apple, in the 1950s, by Kraft Foods employee Dan Walker. Like candy apples, caramel apples’ invention also resulted from experimentation with holiday candy – Walker said he discovered the recipe when experimenting with excess caramels from Halloween sales; he simply melted them down and added apples, and the rest is history. While caramel apples were made by hand for the first decade or so of their existence, Vito Raimondi of Chicago, Illinois made and patented the first automated caramel apple machine in 1960.

Other Flavor Variations

In addition to the traditional candy and caramel apples, many other variations exist, including:

Taffy apples – Caramel apples are often called “taffy apples” when additional ingredients such as peanuts are applied.

Chocolate apples – These include both caramel apples dipped in chocolate and chocolate-coated apples (with no caramel). Chocolate and chocolate-caramel apples are made with both milk chocolate and white chocolate, and may also include toppings such as sprinkles, crushed cookies, and candy bits.

Jelly apples – This type of candy apple is sold in Coney Island, New York. Jelly apples differ from regular candy apples in that the candy coating is softer and cherry-flavored, rather than cinnamon-flavored.

You can customize your own candy or caramel apples however you like, and get creative with both dips and toppings. A great way to step just outside of your comfort zone is to try the Gold Medal Appl-EZ Blue Raspberry candy apple dip, for example, or our Red Hot Apple flavoring for a hotter cinnamon taste. Experiment with your own variations, too – who knows, you might just end up being the next William Kolb or Dan Walker!

Which do you prefer – caramel apples or candy apples? Just for fun, click here and vote for your favorite!