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Look to the Heavens for Small Desserts, Balloons and Feathered Serpents

2021-10-15   ◆   2 minutes read

The third Saturday in October is the day we share small desserts like tiny cakes, truffles, and candies. Why? For starters, they’re incredibly cute and are guaranteed to brighten anyone’s day; but what’s more, it’s National Sweetest Day, a real holiday that started in the Midwest designed to encourage people to show kindness in tiny ways. For anyone with a sweet tooth, it’s a great excuse to indulge in little things like petit fours, or mignardises. Let’s begin with the history of the holiday itself.

Small Desserts Blog Image. Image du blog petits desserts.
Mignardises at Martin Dessert

Originally dubbed Candy Day in 1916 by the National Confectioners’ Association, the papers soon began referring to it as “Sweetest Day of the Year.” However, with the onset of WWI and sugar rationing, this was short-lived and sweet celebrations were put on hold until 1921. Depending on who you ask, the holiday first resumed in one of two places. The first option offers the city of Detroit, where four Michigan confectioners united with the Red Cross to distribute thousands of bags of sweets to hospitals, orphanages, and shelters. The second option, the city of Cleveland, saw a committee of 12 confectioners join forces to deliver thousands of boxes of candy to various people including newsboys, orphans, and the elderly… Perhaps both cities agreed to commence their good deeds in unison? 

Vintage picture of a child in a candy shop
Vintage Candy Store (Historical Society of Clarendon Vermont)

One story tied to the resumption of the holiday requires you to imagine one hundred regulation army target balloons floating across Michigan, delivering coupons to excited kids. Coupons that could be exchanged for candy! It reminds us of the Aztecs Mesoamerican god, Quetzalcoatl, a feathered serpent who was cast away by the other gods because he shared chocolate with the humans when he dropped cacao beans from the heavens. A little different from balloons, but no less exciting, the other gods didn’t see it this way. You see, they didn’t approve of these charitable deeds, preferring to keep the precious cacao for themselves. 

Quetzalcoatl in human and serpent form, who shared the chocolate beans with humans (Infoplease)

But back to National Sweetest Day, a day when humans are encouraged to show kindness to other humans. On this day we’re quite interested in small desserts like truffles, marzipan figurines, gummi worms, and salt water taffy. All of which are perfect for decorating tiny cakes! If you’re interested in learning more about these candies, you’re welcome to read about Chocolate Truffle: What’s That? or Gummy Candies, Bears, Worms and Other Animals.

Candies at the Sticky’s Candy & Bakery

So National Sweetest Day is about small desserts like tiny cakes and bite-size confectioneries, and the key to celebrating correctly is to demonstrate some sort of goodwill like the Michiganders, Ohioans, and Quetzalcoatl. Of course we always condone a box of chocolates, but we encourage you to think outside of the box and explore the options for candies, caramel corn, chocolate coated pretzels, and even chocolate coated cherries… If you’re lucky, someone might direct some sweetness your way.

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About the author is an organization dedicated to the research of desserts, baked goods, and snacks. The community maintains one of the largest databases of dessert items and dessert places in Canada. 


With a mission to facilitate foodies’ search for their desired products, the site allows finding locations that dessert items are sold at, enhances knowledge on various treats (i.e., variety, flavours, health benefits, history, origins, etc.), and enables people to enjoy the wealth of life. is a proud member of the BBB Business Review


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