Did you know that “dragée” is a French term for a bite-sized, sugar-coated nut or piece of fruit (often dried) coated with sugar? It’s also used to describe the small, sweet beads that we use for cake decorations. Furthermore, they are a great favourite as a sweet morsel at a party, or as an alternative to some of the more traditional desserts. |
Dragées play a prominent part in the product range of suppliers of wholesale sweets. One example that enjoys great popularity in the UK is the sugared almond, with its crunchy, light pastel-coloured sugar coating, which is found in almost every high street supermarket or sweet shop.
Dragées in History
The exact origin of this sweet isn’t clear. According to some historians, it was first found in ancient Rome when roasted almonds were coated in honey. One tradition has it that a Roman baker and confectioner by the name of Julius Dragatus invented this sweet, which was served to the rich and noble of society at weddings and births.
But as honey retains its stickiness and sugar only became available around the 15th century, the actual origin of the hard-shelled dragée as we know it today can be said to be around that period.
The dragée soon became immensely popular across Europe and soon people from all walks of life began searching for new foods to coat with a crunchy, sugary shell. Many different variations were developed - some remained local while others spread across the continent. Thanks to their availability, taste, and “shelf life”, nuts and dried fruits were firm favourites. Many different combinations of fruit and herbs were also used to create some interesting tastes. One example was the use of ginger and coriander to create a spicy and sweet Renaissance favourite known as “épices de chambre”.
This also heralded the birth of perhaps the first suppliers of wholesale sweets in the form of peddlers who bought up stocks of dragées from local merchants and sold them on in other locations.
Yet another use for the dragée was as a coating for unpalatable medicine (hence the term a “sugar coated pill”). Apothecaries of the past tried to disguise the taste of their medicines by coating them with sugar. This practice, which continued on well into the mid-20th century, was said to have originated in the French city of Verdun.
Today, dragées are just as popular as ever with the variety of fillings as diverse as the types of wares sold by suppliers of wholesale sweets. Apart from chocolate-filled ones (M&Ms, Smarties etc.), you can also get flavoured fillings; sweet and sour; spicy; every type of nut and dried fruit; coffee beans; ginger; and almost any new and innovative flavour you could imagine.
As well as the major chocolate producers, many manufacturers of boutique chocolates are also venturing in to the world of dragées, experimenting with an ever-increasing variety of taste combinations designed to excite the taste buds and create an unforgettable experience.
Angelina Moufftard works for hf Chocolates, established wholesale sweets suppliers with decades of experience supplying sweets and high-end chocolates to retailers across the UK. Working with the most dedicated suppliers from France, Spain, Germany, Holland, Belgium, the USA and the UK, hf Chocolates' great tasting and beautifully packaged products add panache to any sweet display.
Related Articles -