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Bon bons - Input Junkie — LiveJournal
January 25th, 2008
09:48 am

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Bon bons
What would you say bon bons are? Have you ever seen anything presented as a bon bon? I haven't until the subject came up this past weekend.

I'd vaguely assumed they're some sort of meringue, probably because I couldn't imagine eating something richer all day, but apparently that's one of the few confections that someone, somewhere, doesn't consider to be a bon bon.

Addendum: It looks as though bonbons are a remarkably ill-defined candy. Does anyone have access to an OED? I'd like to see how close it gets.

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From:twistedchick
Date:January 25th, 2008 03:05 pm (UTC)
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One version of bonbons is chocolate candy, or candy with chocolate in it, the elegant sort with small pieces in a presentation box. Another is small sugary mints, again in a fancy box.
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From:louiseroho
Date:January 25th, 2008 03:07 pm (UTC)
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A bon bon is a chocolate dipped candy.
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From:madfilkentist
Date:January 25th, 2008 03:29 pm (UTC)
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That's what I think of as a bon bon also.

The term is an old one in French; it occurs in the song "Ah, vous dirai-je, maman," which Mozart wrote variations on and which provided the tune for our Alphabet Song. It meant some kind of candy back then, but I don't know what kind. Maybe all kinds.
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From:fidelioscabinet
Date:January 25th, 2008 03:14 pm (UTC)
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My aunt (Mississippi French creole, on her mother's side) used to make them at Christmas every year--they were brightly-colored soft, boiled sweets with almond flavoring--she would usually put an almod or a pecan half on top of each one. I don't recall ever seeing her make them, so I'm not sure what all went into them.
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From:fidelioscabinet
Date:January 25th, 2008 03:24 pm (UTC)
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Per an old Fanny Farmer edition, they're a fondant-based candy, which sounds about right; a recipe is here:
http://www.bartleby.com/87/r1699.html
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From:mneme
Date:January 25th, 2008 03:18 pm (UTC)
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Chocolate truffles and the like, mostly.
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From:bibliofilen
Date:January 25th, 2008 03:18 pm (UTC)
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To me bon bons are small pieces of hard candy. What we'd call caramels (karameller) in Swedish.

It isn't about flavouring but about it being pieces of hard candy.
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From:gildedacorn
Date:January 25th, 2008 03:24 pm (UTC)
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I define bon bons as soft candies such as come in boxes, usually chocolate/truffles or things such as fondant, marzipan, fruit, etc. dipped in chocolate.

It's interesting to hear that some people consider the hardness of the candy to be essential, whereas I consider the softness thereof to be key.

Definitely candy, though, not meringues.

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From:dcseain
Date:January 25th, 2008 05:32 pm (UTC)
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I'm with you, but the dipped in chocolate is not 100% requisite for me. Fruit jellies and caramels - topped with a nut or piece of fruit or not - also meet the definition for me. In that, i guess a bonbon is a bite-sized, finger-food candy, often covered in chocolate, possibly in presentation box.

Hard candy is something else entirely to me, excluding caramels, but including dulce de leche, the hard variety of which i recently learned are often called butter caramels in English, like Werther's Originals.
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From:agrumer
Date:January 25th, 2008 06:58 pm (UTC)
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I'd always just assumed it was an old-fashioned name for those packaged bite-sized chocolates you see boxes of advertised for Valentines Day. Maybe filled, maybe solid chocolate, maybe a variety.

Wikipedia says it varies. In France and Germany, "bonbon" is the general word for candy.
From:nancylebov
Date:January 25th, 2008 09:58 pm (UTC)
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Though wikipedia seems to conclude that bonbons are any sort of candy with soft centers. They're obviously not covering the full range of definitions.
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From:kip_w
Date:January 25th, 2008 07:07 pm (UTC)
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I thought of chocolates as bon bons.

Then they started making little ice cream pellets (about the size of a 2x2 Lego piece) dipped in chocolate under the trade mark "Bon Bons" (or maybe "Bonbons"?), so I have seen something presented as a bon bon, more or less.
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From:kgbooklog
Date:January 25th, 2008 08:23 pm (UTC)
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Then they started making little ice cream pellets (about the size of a 2x2 Lego piece) dipped in chocolate under the trade mark "Bon Bons" (or maybe "Bonbons"?)

That's the only time I've seen anything actually called "bon bons" (as opposed to seeing just the term), so that's my default mental image.

I bet if you tried really hard, you could find a way to dip meringue in chocolate.
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From:gildedacorn
Date:January 26th, 2008 04:17 am (UTC)
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The OED says:

1. A lozenge or other confection made of sugar

From:nancylebov
Date:January 26th, 2008 11:24 am (UTC)
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Thanks.

That's all? It looks as though they've missed most of the meanings.

If that's the whole of their candy-related definition, I'll send them a link, and suggest that they offer single-word look-ups for $3.
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From:gildedacorn
Date:January 26th, 2008 05:19 pm (UTC)
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That is indeed the whole of their candy-related definition. Here's the whole thing:



1. A lozenge or other confection made of sugar. Also attrib.

1796 F. BURNEY Camilla III. VI. iii. 171 Clarendel, lounging upon a chair in the middle of the shop, sat eating bon bons. 1818 MOORE Fudge Fam. Paris v, The land of Cocaigne..Where for hail they have bon-bons, and claret for rain. 1819 M. WILMOT Let. 26 Nov. (1935) 32 The pretty papers with which the bon bon plates are covered. 1831 DISRAELI Yng. Duke 3 Lady Fitz-Pompey called twice a week..with a supply of pine-apples or bon-bons. 1886 A. T. RICHIE Let. 1 Jan. (1924) x. 192 The bonbon tongs had an immense success. 1911 Daily Colonist (Victoria, B.C.) 29 Apr. 4/4 (Advt.), Cut Glass..Handled Bon Bon Dishes £3.00. 1964 M. LASKI in S. Nowell-Smith Edwardian England iv. 195 Innumerable bon-bon dishes and table napkins.
transf. and fig.

1856 Farmer's Mag. Nov. 426 A good thing, quite a bon~bon. 1955 Times 30 Aug. 5/4 They opened this morning with a programme of French bon-bons.

2. A dainty, a delicacy. Obs.

1821 Cook's Oracle (ed. 3) 330 [In a] Catalogue of Persian ‘Bons Bons’, there is a list of 28 differently flavoured Mustards. 1842 ‘MEG DODS’ Cook & Housew. Man. II. v. 125 note, They [onions] used to form the favourable bon-bons of the Highlander.

3. In full cracker bon-bon: see CRACKER 6b. Also attrib.

1846 DICKENS Pictures from Italy 170 What with this green, and the intolerable reds and crimsons, and gold borders..the whole concern looked like a stupendous Bon~bon. 1894 H. NISBET Bush Girl's Rom. 287 Gilt paper and coloured bon-bon stuff. 1901 Daily Chron. 10 Aug. 10/3 Frieze suits in the loveliest bon-bon shades of blue and red.




From:nancylebov
Date:January 26th, 2008 05:33 pm (UTC)
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Thanks very much. I'll contact the OED. I'm surprised they have such a blank spot for a word that's been around for a long time, but it's a big world with a lot of words in it.

Or, to be less tactful: Wikipedia scoops OED!
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From:gildedacorn
Date:January 27th, 2008 09:09 pm (UTC)
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My husband suggests that is because if the OED doesn't know, it does research, and if Wikipedia doesn't know, it makes stuff up.

From:nancylebov
Date:January 28th, 2008 04:01 am (UTC)
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In this case, Wikipedia is a better match for what turned up in the discussion here, so I think they weren't just making things up. I suspect the OED didn't know there was more about bonbons that they needed to research.
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