Soft Sugar Stick Candy versus Hard Sugar Stick Candy
Believe it or not, there is no difference between soft stick candy and hard stick candy! Even when the package is labeled as "Soft Stick Candy". Candy labeled as Soft Stick is simply put through an added step that you will read about in the last paragraph below. And YES, Helms also makes stick candy labeled as Soft Stick.
HERE'S WHAT HAPPENS
When all types of sugar stick candy as well as puffs are first made, they are very hard. Water is mixed with the sugar during cooking and the water is cooked out making the candy very hard and brittle. Several days or even weeks after it is made, the candy starts to go through its graining process. It may appear to be wet as it starts to take on moisture from the air. The graining process can take place at any time depending on the surrounding environment. After a few days the damp appearance will be gone and the candy will be much softer. Storing candy in cold, low humidity environments will cause it to lose any moisture it has and become hard again especially when it is unwrapped. But don't worry, the moisture will come back if you store it in a warm humid environment.. This also applies to our sugar pillow puffs and cut puffs.Normally we store our sugar based candies in our warehouse for upto 6 months before shipping it out to the stores to insure the candy will be soft. Occasionally during our busy seasons from September to January of each year we have no choice but to send the candy out just as soon as its made.
If your candy is not as soft as you like, place the unwrapped box preferrably with the lid open in a warm damp place until it softens to your liking. Then, keep the candy in a reclosable air tight container. Stick candy has a minimum of a 3 year shelf life.
So you see, hard stick candy is not a type of sugar stick candy on its own, it is not a characteristic to certain brands, nor does it mean that it is old or stale. It is just the opposite, it means that it is brand new. Just like wine, it gets better with age.
At Helms Candy, we too make what we call "Soft Stick" in jars. To soften the candy we force moisture into the candy by placing the candy through a series of high heat and high moisture events similar to those we described above to speed up the process. Due to the complexity of this process and the volume at which we make our candy products, only those labeled as "Soft Stick" and our "Puffs" are force softened.