If you’re from Erie or the surrounding areas, chances are you’ve heard of sponge candy. This light, delicious candy has a melt-in-your-mouth sensation, yet also packs a crisp crunch. To this day, sponge candy remains one the most coveted items at Stefanelli’s. It’s not uncommon for us to pack orders of sponge candy for Erie natives all over the United States.
What is sponge candy?
At Stefanelli’s, we know it as sponge candy but it has a lot of other fun names, too. Some other monikers that sponge candy goes by are honeycomb toffee, sea foam, puff candy, and fairy food. All of these names highlight an unforgettable quality that makes sponge candy unique: its light and airy texture. Sponge candy is a toasted toffee confection that has teenie tiny air bubbles within the filling. The toffee section, or the “sponge”, is completely coated with milk or dark chocolate.
Sponge candy is made from a few simple ingredients. Sugar, corn syrup, water, vinegar, and baking soda are what create the magical filling of sponge candy. Traditional toffee is hard, brittle, and buttery, but the secret to sponge candy is air. During the candy-making process, air is introduced to the filling’s mixture by adding the baking soda and the vinegar.
When vinegar and baking soda are combined, they create bubbles and foam. This is what produces a layer of air bubbles all throughout the filling of the sponge candy. That’s how this candy gets that light, crispy quality.
Sponge candy is a fragile confection. It doesn’t react well to high temperatures and humidity. You have to be careful when handling this treat in those conditions because it may melt and lose its structure.
Where did sponge candy originate?
Sponge candy’s origin is kind of elusive - no one really knows where exactly it came from. However, what we do know is that sponge candy began to appear in Northwestern PA and Western NY around the 1940s and 50s. Small, individually owned candy shops began to make sponge candy and it quickly became a favorite among locals.
Some have said that Cadbury’s Crunchie bar and Hoadley’s Violet Crumble were the predecessors to the local favorite we know and love. However, those two candy bars don’t exactly have the same texture as traditional sponge candy like what we make at Stefanelli’s.
Regardless of its origin, Stefanelli’s is glad that sponge candy is here to stay and continues to satisfy sugar cravings all across the Great Lakes region.
Stefanelli’s is keeping the tradition alive
Stefanelli’s has been producing sponge candy almost as long as our doors have been opened. (And we don’t plan to stop dishing out the sponge anytime soon). We carefully craft our chocolate sponge candy in small batches made with love. If you haven’t already, stop into a Stefanelli’s location to get your hands on some sponge candy or other delicious goodies. We promise you won’t regret it!