What Are "Sugar Plums"? Are They Still Made?

Sugar plums are referred to in the famous poem “The Night Before Christmas”.
I have always wonder what sugar plums are-some sort of candy.Are they still made?

There is a type of candy called “sugar plum”. Actually, there are probably several forms of them. The type available where I live is basically a plum-flavored gundrop/jelly heavily coated with sugar. I like them a great deal, but apparently most people aren’t that enthused with plum-flavored candy so they aren’t real common.

Alton Brown’s Christmas special this year, “Twas the Night Before Good Eats” included a recipe for sugar plums. IIRC, you basically put dried fruits and nuts in a food processor, roll the resulting gloop into little balls, and roll them in sugar. Looked kinda tasty, but not terribly impressive.

The episode is (I believe) available on YouTube, but the recipes from it aren’t yet on the Food Network web site.


The poem “A Visit From St Nicholas” (which contains the line, “Visions of sugar plums” was published in 1823. I know sometimes words change meaning over time. Were “sugar plums” candy back then as well?

Just started watching the episode on YouTube.

I want a cordless phone like the one he’s using. :smiley:

Sugar plums have not changed in a long time. They are mentioned in a number of 19th Century literary/musical contexts.

They belong in that quaint category of cute treats made by hand at home (which includes rum balls, about which I cannot think without thinking of Yuletide growing up as a small kid) which is fast disappearing from American consciousness, swallowed up by confections from Mars Candy, or by of all stupidities pre-cut, pre-colored cookies from Nestle and other companies. Obviously, we’ve forgotten that half the fun is in the making. :smack:

I don’t know whether this is what the poem refers to, but we made something called sugar plums which were basically red plums rolled in white sugar and cooked on a very low heat in the oven until there was a cracked sugary coating all over them and they were partially dried out. Repeated a couple of times. We always had them warm with a scoop of ice cream, but I think the old-fashioned way was to let them cool and give them as gifts like candy.


I didn’t see that Good Eats episode, but I made a recipe for sugar plums this year which looks pretty similar. It called for 1 cup each dried prunes, cranberries, apricots and dates, chopped in a food processor. Take that out and chop a cup of pecans. Mix the fruit, pecans and a cup of coconut together. Add some rum (or orange juice, or orange liqueur) and mix well. Then you roll the mixture in balls and roll the balls in sugar. They get better with age. I made them just over a week ago and just ate one and it was delicious.