Sprinkles (sometimes known as "jimmies" , "hundreds-and-thousands", or "shots"; see below) are very small pieces of confectionery used as a decoration or to add texture to desserts â€“ typically cupcakes, cookies, doughnuts, ice cream, and some puddings. The candies, which are produced in a variety of colors, are usually too small to be eaten individually and are in any case not intended to be eaten by themselves, being nearly flavorless. In the Netherlands, chocolate sprinkles, or "hagelslag," are used as a sandwich topping for sandwiches with sweet contents; this is also common in Belgium and Indonesia, once a colony of the Netherlands. Sprinkles can be most commonly found on cupcakes, being that cupcakes generally have more frosting and less diameter than cakes. However, all sprinkles generally require frosting for which to stick onto. The multicolor confectionary candy are known as rainbow jimmies, and the chocolate ones are known as jimmies. The term "jimmies" is thought to have been derived from a popular ice cream store worker's favorite treat. In the 1970's, James "Jimmy" O'Connell, who served ice cream at a local shop, would often dunk cones into bowls of chocolate flavored sprinkles. Soon, customers began asking for 'Jimmy's cone, or just plain 'Jimmy's". Eventually, "Jimmy's" became "jimmies". The phrase was further made prominent in New England slang by the cancer research organization, the Jimmy Fund. For every cone of ice cream with jimmies, select ice cream parlors would donate a pre-specified amount of money. Dutch hagelslag was first invented in 1936 by Gerard de Vries for Venz, a Dutch company made popular by said treat. Several letters to Venz from a five-year-old boy, H. Bakker, asking for a chocolate bread topping, inspired and prompted de Vries's development of sprinkles. After much research and venture, de Vries and Venz created the first machine to produce the tiny cylindrical treats. They were named "Hagelslag" after their resemblance to a weather phenomenon prominent in the Netherlands, hail. Popular terminology tends to overlap, while manufacturers are more precise with their labeling. What consumers call sprinkles covers several types of candy decorations which are sprinkled informally over a surface rather than placed in specific spots. Sanding sugar; crystal sugar; nonpareils; silver, gold, and pearl dragÃ©es â€” not to be confused with pearl sugar (which is also sprinkled on baked goods); and hundreds-and-thousands are all used this way, along with a newer product called "sugar shapes" or "sequins". These latter come in a variety of shapes for holidays or themes, such as Halloween witches and pumpkins, or flowers and dinosaurs. Sanding sugar, which is a transparent crystal sugar of larger size than general-use refined white sugar, has been commercially available in a small range of colors for decades. Now it comes in a wide variety, including black, and metallic-like "glitter." Crystal sugar tends to be clear, and of much larger crystals than sanding sugar. Pearl sugar is relatively large, opaque white spheroids of sugar. Both crystal and pearl sugars are typically used for sprinkling on sweet breads, pastries, and cookies in many countries. Some American manufacturers deem the elongated opaque sprinkles the official sprinkles. In British English, these are sugar strands, whereas hundreds-and-thousands are spherical. In Australia and New Zealand, hundreds-and-thousands are almost always eaten on top of patty cakes or on buttered bread as fairy bread, as festive items at children's birthday parties. In the northeastern United States, sprinkles are often referred to as jimmies. Jimmies are considered to be chocolate and sprinkles to be the multi-colored variety, while the term "jimmies" is used more generically elsewhere. The Brigham's Ice Cream Company claims that "Jimmies were first developed by Just Born Candy Company, which was founded by Samuel Born, who immigrated to the US from Russia around 1910 ... Born ... decid[ed] to accredit the name to the producer, Jimmy Bartholomew. The new product was named JIMMIES, which is still a trademarked name ...." The sprinkles known as nonpareils in French and American English are tiny opaque spheres which were traditionally white, but now come in many colors. They date back at least to the late 18th-century, if not earlier. French confectioners may have named them for being "without equal" as delicate decoration for piÃ¨ces montÃ©es and desserts. The sprinkle-type of dragÃ©e is like a large nonpareil with a metallic coating of silver, gold, copper, or bronze. The traditional almond dragÃ©es (confetti in Italian) are not sprinkles, although they are sprinkled on people at weddings and other celebrations. The food-sprinkle dragÃ©e is now also made in a form resembling pearls. Toppings which are more similar in consistency to another type of candy, even if used similarly to sprinkles, are usually known by variation of that candy's name â€” for example, mini-chocolate chipsâ€”or praline. An interesting alternative use for sprinkles is the confetti cake. In this dessert, sprinkles are mixed with the batter, where they slowly dissolve and form little dots, giving the appearance of confetti. Confetti cakes are popular for children's birthdays in the United States. The Pillsbury Company sells its own variation known as "Funfetti" cake, incorporating a sprinkle-like substance into the mix. Sprinkles is also the name of a cupcake cafe started in Beverly Hills, California.