A History of Sprinkles

Sprinkles have many names in many countries. In England, they are called “hundreds and thousands.” In Holland, they go by hagelslag. By most accounts, sprinkles were invented by French bakers in the 18th Century and called nonpareils. Added to cakes and confections, these treats were “without parallel.”

But it took the famous Dutch chocolatiers until 1936 to perfect a chocolate sprinkle, originally used as a topping for bread and toast.

If you are in New England, be sure to ask for “jimmies” and not sprinkles at the supermarket. The name “jimmies” has an interesting history. Dr. Sidney Farber was a renowned cancer researcher who co-founded the famous Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. He also founded a charity named after one of his child patients. The Jimmy Fund has raised millions over the years to help fight childhood cancers.

Dr. Farber worked at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital early in his career. A nephew, Edward Brigham, opened an ice cream restaurant called Brigham’s and charged an extra penny for chocolate sprinkles on a cone, which benefited The Jimmy Fund. Soon, all of New England called sprinkles by the local name.