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caramel (n.)
1725, "burnt sugar," from French caramel "burnt sugar" (17c.), from Old Spanish caramel (modern caramelo), which is of uncertain origin, probably ultimately from Medieval Latin cannamellis, which is traditionally from Latin canna (see cane (n.)) + mellis, genitive of mel "honey" (from PIE root *melit- "honey"). But some give the Medieval Latin word an Arabic origin, or trace it to Latin calamus "reed, cane."

The word was being used by 1884 of a dark-colored creamy candy and by 1909 as a color-name.
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caramelize (v.)
"convert into caramel," 1837, from caramel + -ize. Earlier was past-participle adjective carameled (1727). Related: Caramelized; caramelizing.
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*melit- 

Proto-Indo-European root meaning "honey."

It forms all or part of: caramel; marmalade; Melissa; mellifluous; mildew; molasses; mousse.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek meli, Latin mel "honey; sweetness;" Albanian mjal' "honey;" Old Irish mil "honey," Irish milis "sweet;" Old English mildeaw "nectar," milisc "honeyed, sweet;" Old High German milsken "to sweeten;" Gothic miliþ "honey."

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cracker-jack (n.)

also crackerjack, "something excellent," 1893, U.S. colloquialism, apparently a fanciful construction, earliest use in reference to racing horses. The caramel-coated popcorn-and-peanuts confection was said to have been introduced at the World's Columbian Exposition (1893). Supposedly a salesman gave it the name when he tasted some and said, "That's a cracker-jack," using the then-popular expression. The name was trademarked 1896. The "Prize in Every Box" was introduced 1912.

"Your brother Bob is traveling, isn't he?"
"Yep. He's with one of the big racing teams. I tell you, he's a cracker-jack! Wins a bushel of diamonds and gold cups every week."
[Life magazine, Aug. 1, 1895]
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