Is Chocolate Technically Candy? It's Complicated (2024)

Sarah Beling

Sarah Beling

Sarah Beling is a writer and performer based in New York City. She loves breakfast sandwiches, late dinners, and splitting an app.


published Oct 19, 2023

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Is Chocolate Technically Candy? It's Complicated (1)

In This Article

  1. Is Chocolate Candy?
  2. Is Chocolate Technically Considered Candy?
  3. What Is Chocolate?
  4. What Is Candy?
  5. What Is Cocoa Butter?
  6. What Is Cocoa Powder?
  7. Is White Chocolate Considered Candy?





Chocolate is one of those confections that doesn’t need a special occasion to make an appearance. Since chocolate is so varied, there are so many ways to incorporate it into recipes for all seasons. If you’re a fan of all things chocolate, then you know that it’s often combined with a lot of sugar to make it super sweet, but does that actually mean that chocolate is considered candy? While we often think of candy as any cloyingly sweet treat, its definition is more technical than many think.

Quick Overview

Is Chocolate Candy?

Yes, generally speaking, processed chocolate, as in milk chocolate bars, chocolate chips, and chocolate fudge, are considered candy, as they are all combined with considerable amounts of sugars and other sweeteners. Cocoa products that do not have high amounts of added sugar and are not meant to be eaten by themselves, such as unsweetened cocoa powder and cocoa butter, are not forms of candy.

Is Chocolate Technically Considered Candy?

Overall, whether or not chocolate is considered candy depends on what state it’s in. Chocolate products that also contain lots of sugar (such as chocolate bars and chocolate chips) are considered candy, but unsweetened cocoa products such as cocoa powder and cocoa butter are not technically candy. There is also a fair amount of variation in how countries around the world identify chocolate — in the United States, candy most commonly refers to both chocolate products that contain sugar and sugar-based treats. Other cultures sometimes separate the two, referring to chocolate with added sugar as “chocolate confectionery” and sugar-based products as “sugar confectionery.”

What Is Chocolate?

Chocolate is defined by the Encyclopedia Britannica as a “food product made from cocoa beans”, which come from the cacao tree. Cacao is a Greek term meaning “food of the gods.” Beans harvested from the cacao tree are processed into cocoa powder or cocoa butter which is then incorporated into a wide variety of foods and beverages. Cacao trees were first cultivated more than 3,000 years ago by the Maya, Toltec, and Aztec peoples, and used in ceremonial beverages, currency, and even as a treasured item to be buried along with dignitaries for the afterlife.

What Is Candy?

In the broadest terms, candy is defined as a “sweet food product, the main constituent of which generally is sugar.” This includes hard candies and gelatin-based candies like Jolly Ranchers, gummy candy, marshmallows, candy corn, and jelly beans. In the United States, however, sweetened chocolate products such as chocolate bars (something called “candy bars”), chocolate chips, and chocolate fudge are also very much considered candy.

What Is Cocoa Butter?

Cocoa butter is the naturally derived fat of cocoa beans. Cocoa beans are first roasted to reveal the plant’s cocoa nibs. The nibs are then ground to extract both a paste known as chocolate liquor and pressed to release their fat, which is cocoa butter. Cocoa butter has a mildly sweet taste, but does not contain sugar. It is used both as a key ingredient of chocolate as well as in hair and beauty products.

What Is Cocoa Powder?

Cocoa powder is made from the roasted cocoa beans’ chocolate liquor, which, after removing its fat to make cocoa butter, is dried and ground into a powder. It does not naturally contain sugar. There are two main types of cocoa powder — natural cocoa powder, which has a fruitier, more intense flavor profile, and Dutch-process cocoa powder, which is treated with alkali to achieve a milder taste and darker color than natural cocoa powder.

Is White Chocolate Considered Candy?

White chocolate is made from cocoa butter — so while it does not contain the cocoa solids present in other kinds of chocolate, it does contain cocoa in the form of cocoa butter and therefore can be considered chocolate. That said, for white chocolate to be considered true chocolate, it must contain at least 20 percent cocoa butter. Because white chocolate does contain sugar, it would (under U.S. standards), also be considered candy.

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Is Chocolate Technically Candy? It's Complicated (2024)


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