These tiny pieces of coloured sugar, used in myriads as decorations on cakes and puddings, seem to have been around since at least the beginning of the nineteenth century; the Oxford English Dictionary quotes an unnamed source as vouching for their existence in the 1830s, but gives no documentary evidence. The vogue for them seems now to have passed, but until well after the Second World War they pervaded the British tea table: ‘“Cooks nearly always put hundreds and thousands on trifle, dear,” she said. “Those little pink and white sugar things”’ (Agatha Christie, Thirteen Problems, 1932). In the USA they are usually called sprinkles or jimmies.
Subjects: Cookery, Food, and Drink.