A Historic View of Candy Part 2
As part of our series for national candy month, let’s take historic looks at sweets in colonial Latin America. Women known as dulceras roamed the streets of urban centers with platters of sweets for sale carried on their heads. One would see“little bowls and cups of freshly made sweetmeats, preserved guavas and mammees (an apple like fruit), grated coconut stewed in sugar, and a very delicious custard made with cocoanut-milk, besides various other fruit-preparations,” saysone account from 19th century Havana, Cuba. These vendors worked for masters who sent them out to hawk their wares as part of the jornal system which gave enslaved African women who came from societies in which women ran local food markets in Africa an opportunity to use their entrepreneurial skills. The system required giving the majority of their earnings to their masters and keeping say for example, 25 cents of every dollar. The key here is that these women had lucrative culinary skills that their owners needed and thus provided the enslaved person a degree of leverage within an oppressive relationship. It was dulceras across the Americas that one finds in the historic records as some of the first enslaved people who earned enough income to purchase their freedom, that of loved ones, and often go on to establish profitable eateries such as taverns and boarding houses with employees.