Caramel candies are light brown sweets made from sugar, milk, corn syrup and fat. Caramels are made by adding milk and fat to a sugary syrup that has been heated and stirred constantly until it reaches a light brown color.
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Caramel candies have a long, though unclear, history. While some consider caramel a purely American-made confection, others believe that Arabs were the first to discover caramel around 1000 AD. They called it "kurat al milh" or "sweet ball of salt." This type of caramel, made by crystallizing sugar in boiling water, was hard and crunchy. How caramel was developed and spread from 1000 AD is ambiguous, but it is thought that milk and fat was added to the recipe around 1850 to produce a chewier caramel candy. Around the same time, caramel may have been made with sugar beet juice when refined sugar was considered an expensive luxury.
Caramel candy's popularity increased greatly when Milton S. Hershey began his first successful candy business in 1886: Lancaster Caramel Company. Soon after it was established, the Lancaster Caramel Company was shipping caramel candies across the United States and to Europe.
Since Hershey's introduction of caramel candies on a grand scale, caramel candy has taken on many forms and textures, such as sauces, creams, hard and soft candies, and glazes for foods such as popcorn.