Of mysterious origin, parma violets are attributed to the species of Viola alba. These exotic violets are thought to have been introduced into Italy in the sixteenth century, where they long have been appreciated for their fragrance and floral coloration.
Parma violet petals are an essential ingredient of Crème Yvette, a uniquely flavored liqueur created originally by Sheffield Company of Connecticut in the 1800s and produced subsequently by Charles Jacquin et Cie of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, beginning in the 1930s.
Parma Violets are a violet-flavored tablet confectionary produced by Swizzels Mallow of Derbyshire, East Midlands, England. The popular, pale violet sweet discs are named as a tribute to these legendary, richly prized violets.
Native to Europe and Asia, the species Viola odorata was introduced into Australia and North America, where it has adapted well. Its common names include common violet, English violet, and garden violet. Because of its distinctive, sweet fragrance, it is usually referred to as sweet violet.
Violet syrup, made from violet extract, is popular in France. In 1912 Georges Monin founded Monin in Bourges, in central France, as purveyors of flavored syrups for beverages and foods. In 1992, Olivier Monin, Georges' grandson, assumed presidency from his father, Paul, and instituted the company's global expansion into the Asia, the Middle East, and the New World. In support of American distribution, Monin USA opened offices in Clearwater, Florida, in 1993 and a manufacturing plant there in 1996.
In the United States, sweets such as violet marshmallows are concocted from the syrup. Violets have been treasured for their flavor, fragrance, and visual appeal in the Old World since colonial times.