Britons ate nearly pounds 4bn of confectionery last year, despite the recession. Total sales rose from pounds 3.66bn in 1990 to pounds 3.96bn, showing that families spent more on sweets than on bread or milk, according to a report by a market research group, Mintel International.
Chocolate made up the bulk of sales in 1991, totalling pounds 2.78bn.
More than 25% of those questioned said it was simply handy to eat, while one in ten described it as nutritious.
Men were more likely than women to see chocolate as a good snack or handy to eat.