Since the beginning of humanity there has always been the desire for sweet foods. Traditionally fruits and honey have constituted the primary sources for these treats. In antiquity, sweet food treats were rare and were mostly obtainable by the rich or for special occasions. However, the machination of the sugar industry created a much greater supply of sugar at more affordable prices and the culinary arts have risen to this supply with a world of exotic confections.
Desserts traditionally end a meal so as to leave the palate feeling sweetly refreshed. The very name derives from the French "desservir," which means "to clear the table". Among the many varieties of sweet dishes created to provide this function, cakes, pies, ice creams and puddings are among the favorites.