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Jimmies vs. Sprinkles: Is There a Difference?

A stack of sprinkle sugar cookies with a sprinkle designed rubber spatula standing beside and sprinkles scattered.

Jimmies vs. Sprinkles: Is There a Difference?

Jimmies vs. sprinkles: What's the difference? Is there a difference? Sprinkles are kids' favorite ice cream, cookies, and dessert topping. Jimmies are also a form of sprinkles that are mentioned in New York, Boston, Massachusetts, and part of the Midwest.

Jimmies originated in the mid-1900s when an employee from the confectionary company “Just Born” referred to sprinkles as jimmies. However, there's also debate about when the name took off and where it came from. Jimmies may look like sprinkles, but some people only refer to jimmies when sprinkles are a certain color, length, and application.

This guide looks at the unique differences between jimmies and sprinkles. We look at what makes them different, how they are made, and the better topping for ice cream, cake, cupcakes, and other treats.

What Are Jimmies?

A stack of sprinkle sugar cookies with a sprinkle designed rubber spatula standing beside and sprinkles scattered.

©Toasted Pictures/Shutterstock.com

Jimmies typically refer to any sprinkle toppings. Some may argue that it's about a particular color and size, but most agree that jimmies are synonymous with sprinkles. However, the lingo of saying jimmies has faded over time.

It's said mainly on the East Coast, specifically in New York and Boston. It's also noted in some places in the Midwest. Jimmies are most popular as an ice cream topping.

When it comes to making jimmies, it's not much different than making sprinkles. It's the same process except with another name. Here's the process for making jimmies.

  • Powdered sugar
  • Binding agents
  • Food coloring

These are the three most essential ingredients when it comes to making sprinkles. It creates a mixture pushed through a machine to form the length and size of what you know as jimmies. In some companies, they are pushed through a conveyor belt and broken into smaller sizes.

What Are Sprinkles?

Sprinkles were first invented in the 18th century. They were movie treats. Over the years, they evolved into an iconic ice cream topping. They also became more intricate and part of ice cream and cupcake toppings.

One of the most exciting things about sprinkles is that they are used differently in other countries. For instance, in the Netherlands and Australia, they sprinkle on bread called hagelslag.

When it comes to making sprinkles, it has the same process as jimmies:

  • Powdered sugar
  • Binding agents
  • Food coloring

It creates a mixture to form the length and size of what you know as sprinkles. The flavor may change depending on what you get from your local store. For instance, sanding sugar, pearl sugar, and dragees sprinkles are also served. They can sometimes look like a ball, line, or a star. Different shapes are depending on what occasion you need them.

What's the Difference?

Is there a difference between jimmies and sprinkles? The only difference is in the name. Jimmies is used in certain regions to refer to sprinkles.

However, when it comes to taste, texture, and what to put on, they are essentially the same. They can be used for ice cream and other desserts. However, they also taste precisely the same.

What Food to Add Jimmies or Sprinkles

If you're looking to make either jimmies or sprinkles, however, you want to call them at home, then you need a basic recipe and know what food to add it to.

Here are the basic ingredients you need to make sprinkles at home:

  • Food coloring
  • Corn syrup
  • Water
  • Vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar

Mix these ingredients in a bowl to create an icing. You then create a line of icing on a baking sheet. After it hardens, you break up the lines to look like sprinkles. It's one of the best ways to make sprinkles for any occasion.

If you're unsure what to make with sprinkles or jimmies, consider these popular recipes with a touch of sprinkles.

  • Sprinkled pancakes
  • Sprinkled cookies
  • Sprinkled cupcakes
  • Sprinkled cake
  • Sprinkled donuts
  • Sprinkled rice crispy treats
  • Sprinkled ice cream

When you use your imagination, there's no end to what you can make with sprinkles. You'll discover endless ways to make creative desserts that allow you to have some fun with your baking.

What Should You Get?

What's the difference when it comes to jimmies and sprinkles? The only difference worth noting is that they have different names. If you're ever in the Boston or New York area, you may hear sprinkles called jimmies. Some may argue that they are better or have different tastes. But they are technically the same as sprinkles.

If you're unsure of what to call them, use whatever region you're in to call them either jimmies or sprinkles. You can also give a brief history overview of why they have different names to others unfamiliar with their history.

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