Wikipedia Article About Nonpareils on Wikipedia
Nonpareils are a decorative confection of tiny sugar balls, traditionally an opaque white but now available in many colors. Their origin is uncertain, but they may have evolved out of the pharmaceutical use of sugar, as they were a miniature version of comfits. The French name has been interpreted to mean they were "without equal" for intricate decoration of cakes, desserts, and other sweets, and the elaborate pièces montées constructed as table ornaments.
An 18th-century American recipe for a frosted wedding cake calls for nonpareils as decoration. By the early-19th-century, colored nonpareils seem to have been available in the U.S. The popular cookbook author Eliza Leslie suggests the use of red and green nonpareils for decorating a Queen cake, but strongly suggests white nonpareils are most suitable for pink icing on a pound cake in her 1828 Seventy-five Receipts for Pastries, Cakes and Sweetmeats. Miss Leslie
In 1844, Eleanor Parkinson, of a well-known Philadelphia family of professional confectioners, first published her book The Complete Confectioner, in which she described how to make nonpareils following her comfit-making procedure. It was not for the faint-hearted, as it involved multiple hot pots, hot syrup, a steady hand, and a good deal of patience. The Complete Confectioner