Confectionery is the art of making confections, which are food items that are rich in sugar and carbohydrates. Exact definitions are difficult. In general, however, confectionery is divided into two broad and somewhat overlapping categories: bakers' confections and sugar confections. The occupation of confectioner encompasses the categories of cooking performed by both the French patissier (pastry chef) and the confiseur (sugar worker).
Bakers' confectionery, also called flour confections, includes principally sweet pastries, cakes, and similar baked goods. Baker's confectionery excludes everyday breads, and thus is a subset of products produced by a baker.
Sugar confectionery includes candies (also called sweets, short for sweetmeats, in many English-speaking countries), candied nuts, chocolates, chewing gum, bubble gum, pastillage, and other confections that are made primarily of sugar. In some cases, chocolate confections (confections made of chocolate) are treated as a separate category, as are sugar-free versions of sugar confections. The words candy (Canada & US), sweets (UK, Ireland, and others), and lollies (Australia and New Zealand) are common words for some of the most popular varieties of sugar confectionery.
The confectionery industry also includes specialized training schools and extensive historical records. Traditional confectionery goes back to ancient times and continued to be eaten through the Middle Ages and into the modern era.