What Are Nonpareils?

Certain candies are as synonymous with the cinema as popcorn or slushies—like Milk Duds or Whoppers or, the most relevant candy for our purposes today, Sno-Caps. These are flat, round chocolates covered with nonpareils. What’s that you say? What are nonpareils? We’re about to tackle all these nonpareils so you’ll never have to ask again. 

What are nonpareils?

Nonpareils are teeny, tiny balls of sugar (and a few other ingredients like vegetable oil and dry milk). Originally white, they now come in a variety of colors and sheens. They add both sweetness and crunch to desserts like cakes. Although, you might know them as the tiny white balls on top of Sno-Caps, which themselves are also sometimes called nonpareils. Confusing, we know.

How to pronounce nonpareil?

Nonpareil can, at first, be a confusing looking word. I mean, what’s with all those vowels in there? Ugh, and the consonants? Don’t get me started! But, at the end of the day, it is a word and words need to be pronounced. Nonpareil is pronounced naan-pr-el in the States. If you want to pronounce it the French way, it’s non-puh-rey. And in places like Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United Kingdom, nonpareils are referred to by the moniker “hundreds and thousands,” which is much easier to pronounce.  

What does “nonpareil” mean?

Nonpareil translates from French to “having no equal” aka unparalleled. 

Why are they called nonpareils?

The effortlessly classy French name is certainly an apt one for such an elegant candy, and has been interpreted to mean these little pieces were “without equal” when it comes to the intricate decoration of cakes, desserts, and other sweets. 

So, the next time you’re tasked with making your friend’s wedding cake (we know, it’s always happening!), you’ll know exactly what type of confection to call on for decoration without sacrificing taste: the nonpareil. Or, well, you could also call a professional cake baker to do the job, too. Not that we don’t trust you, of course! But, maybe you’d be better suited taking coats or running the music.

About the Author

Joe Rumrill

Joe Rumrill is a fictional one-eyed spinach-loving sailor created in 1929 by E.C Se- Wait, no, that's not right... Joe Rumrill is a stand up comedian and writer currently based in Los Angeles. His favorite thing about food is a close tie between the taste and the nutrients one gets from it. His least favorite thing about it is the "gritty, dirt-like quality some food has", but he's most likely referring to the time in third grade he was dared to eat playground sand.

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