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Curious about "non-pareils"

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We were given a gift basket with many kinds of chocolates, and one of the boxes was for "non-pareils." I've seen these before, but have never understood the name. I looked up "pareils" which means "similar" in French...so the candy is "not similar" to regular candy? Is that the origin? Does anyone know? I guess it's the little white candy balls all over the chocolate that makes it "not similar"??

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  1. *Close* - "nonpareil" = "no equal" as in "having no equal". So, in non-candy parlance, something that is nonpareil has no equal - there's "nothin' better" as we say in the South. Why are these little chocolates with white sprinkles (or just the white spheres) peerless? No idea, although they are tasty, but wikipedia has an idea: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonpareils .

    1. I think the actual meaning is 'without parallel" in that context.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mnosyne

        PoTAto, PoTAHto.

      2. Funny. I speak French, and had always assumed they were called that because they're tiny and no two are alike. You get nonpareil capers, too, which are a similar size and shape.

        1. I always translated it to be "incomparable". Of course depending on quality of chocolate and maker they certainly can be comparable or even bettered.

          1. Well, technically "without equal" would be "sans pareil" or "aucun pareil", but I've always assumed that it was just a linguistic blip. It COULD be that no two were alike... I don't know.

            The little things on the top, though, are hundreds and thousands.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Das Ubergeek

              But wait, aren't the things on top themselves called "nonpareils" ???
              So the chocolate candies are some sort of gustatory synechdoche?

              1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                You get some kind of award for sneaking the word "synecdoche", but I know "nonpareils" as the chocolate rounds plus the hundreds and thousands.

            2. When I was a kid in Chicago, these candies were a big part of the Saturday movie-going experience. We called them "Non Parry-Ells", and loved the feeling of the little candy ballbearings on our tongues.

              1. It is indeed the little balls that provide the name. These are chocolates decorated with non-pareils. Non-pareils are tiny sugar balls, commonly used to decorate cookies, cakes and, yes, candy.

                1. I always wondered about this too, thanks for asking.

                  1. I used to eat these when I was a child-they were sold in Brooklyn-came in a little box--a small round piece of dark chocolate with little white round balls-(candy balls) on top..
                    very tasty--years passed and they were made bigger and sold by the pound in confectionary stores-glad to hear they are still around in whatever version..

                    1. at the movies, those little sno-caps are awesome mixed in with your popcorn. guilty secret snack in the dark!

                      1. I love those candies! Raisinetts are also good mixed in with your popcorn, yum.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Sara T.

                          YES!