Small hard boiled sugar sweets, approximately spherical, flavoured with acidic fruit and acid, usually tartaric.
Known at least since Samual Hoole's Aurelia of 1783; "Here in clear glasses quivering jellies play, There candied fruits are pil'd in bright array... Smooth comfits, acid drops, and creams of ice." (OED)
Original Receipt from The Complete Confectioner, Pastry-cook, and Baker: Plain and Practical, by Eleanor Parkinson, 1844
Acid Drops and Sticks
Boil clarified sugar to the crack and pour it on an oiled marble stone, pound some tartaric or citric acid to a fine powder and strew over it about a half or three quarters of an ounce of the former according to its quality, and less of the latter, to seven pounds of sugar, turn the edges over into the middle and mix the acid by folding it over or by working it in a similar manner as dough is moulded, but do not pull it. Put it in a tin rubbed over with oil or butter and place it under the stove to keep warm, then cut off a small piece at a time and roll it into a round pipe, cut them off in small pieces the size of drops with shears and let your assistant roll them round under his hand and flatten them. Mix them with powdered sugar sift them from it and keep them in boxes or glasses.
When flavoured with lemon they are called lemon acid drops with otto of roses rose acid drops. The sticks are made in the same manner as the drops without being cut into small pieces.
The name was used by the humourist Kenneth Williams for a collection of acrimonious anecdotes.
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