late 13c., "crystallized sugar," from Old French çucre candi "sugar candy," ultimately from Arabic qandi, from Persian qand "cane sugar," probably from Sanskrit khanda "piece (of sugar)," perhaps from Dravidian (compare Tamil kantu "candy," kattu "to harden, condense").
The sense gradually broadened (especially in U.S.) to mean by late 19c. "any confection having sugar as its basis." In Britain these are sweets, and candy tends to be restricted to sweets made only from boiled sugar and striped in bright colors. A candy-pull (1865) was a gathering of young people for making (by pulling into the right consistency) and eating molasses candy.
"preserved or encrusted with sugar or anything resembling it," c. 1600, past-participle adjective from candy (v.).
also eye candy, "attractive woman on a TV show, etc.," by 1978, based on a metaphor also found in nose candy "cocaine" (1930).
Austrian candy product, in U.S. use by 1956, said to be from letters in German Pfefferminz "peppermint."
also tootsie, 1854, baby-talk substitution for foot (n.). Candy bar Tootsie Roll patent claims use from 1908.