Jujubes: which came first, the fruit or the candy? Jujubes the fruit are rather plain-looking, small and reddish-brown with a mild flesh that is apple-like when fresh and date-like when dried. Jujubes the candy are brightly colored, artificially fruit-flavored and so chewy they could pull a filling out. In the LA Times, food historian Charles Perry recently revealed the connection between these two very different jujubes.Jujube fruits have been around far longer than the candy, growing in warm, dry climates around the world since the trees were domesticated in China 4,000 years ago. In addition to being eaten fresh, dried or candied, the fruits are used in traditional Chinese and Korean medicine.
The popular movie theater candy came much later, but it also had a medicinal use.
At the turn of the century, jujubes were thought good for chest complaints. Those candies originally contained jujube juice, and they may have been popular in theaters because people didn't want to cough and disturb their neighbors. Now they're just chewy, gum-based candies with any sort of fruit flavor.
Anjali is a former private chef who is currently pursuing a graduate degree in nutrition, with plans to become a registered dietitian. She lives in Los Angeles. You can read more of her health-focused writing at Eat Your Greens.
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