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Four modern confectioners immerse themselves in the world of their predecessors, discovering how sweet makers of old helped shape the way Christmas is celebrated.

Four modern confectioners immerse themselves in the world of their professional predecessors, discovering how commercially canny sweet makers helped shape the way Christmas is celebrated. Guided by food historian Dr Annie Gray and social historian Emma Dabiri, the confectioners work their way through three distinct periods of history. As the 21st-century confectioners wrestle with period equipment and ingredients to make a series of sweet delights from the Georgian, Victorian and Interwar eras, they discover how sweet makers in the past spotted the commercial potential of Christmas and developed innovative festive products for an eagerly receptive audience. As a result, many of the things that signify Christmas are the creation of confectioners.

The Georgian era introduced the idea of consumerism at Christmas. In this period, Christmas was a thoroughly adult affair - alcohol, partying and over indulgence marked out festivities, with the social and economic elite throwing opulent and sophisticated parties in their homes and children being kept very much out of the picture. The focus of the celebrations was 12th Night rather than Christmas day itself.

The Victorian period sees the focus of Christmas consumerism shift. Gone are the hedonistic revelries of the Georgian period, Christmas is now a holiday much more centred around children. The confectioners' new task is to satisfy the demands of this emerging market with everything from sugar mice to cheap jelly sweets, candy canes and bags of sugary bonbons.

Christmas in the 1920s was focused more on shopping than ever before. The confectioners need to fill their shop with even more magical treats to tempt in customers. In an increasingly competitive market, confectioners compete to create new products branded with the Christmas market in mind.

59 minutes

Last on

Fri 21 Dec 2018 16:15

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:08

    Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

    The Nutcracker Suite: Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy


Role Contributor
Presenter Emma Dabiri
Presenter Annie Gray
Interviewed Guest Diana Short
Interviewed Guest Cynthia Stroud
Interviewed Guest Paul Young
Interviewed Guest Andy Baxendale
Executive Producer Emily Shields
Series Producer Lucy Swingler
Production Company Wall to Wall Media


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