Classic Candy Canes

altCandy canes are everywhere during the holidays. Available in many sizes, colors, and flavors, these classic sweet treats are sure to please. Candy canes have become such a part of holiday culture that they have become decorations as well. They show up in print on Christmas cards, in lawn decorations, and even as ornaments on the tree.
History of Candy Canes

When adorning trees became a part of Christmas celebrations in the early 1600's in Europe, Christians made decorations such as cookies and white stick candy made from sugar. Legend tells us that around 1670, the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany needed a way to keep young choir members quiet during the long nativity services. He had a local candy maker shape candy sticks into canes to mimic a shepherd's staff. Soon clergymen throughout Europe began handing out candy canes to children during altChristmas services and the tradition spread to America as well.

In 1847, a German immigrant named August Imgard, living in Wooster, Ohio, decorated his Christmas tree with candy canes. Candy canes became a common symbol of Christmas and the white canes were depicted on Christmas cards. Around 1900, cards displayed candy canes with red stripes. Though it is a mystery who first used stripes on candy canes or why, the tradition began and has been in effect for over 100 years.

Making candy canes was originially a labor-intensive process with pulling, twisting, cutting and bending the candy by hand. The Bob McCormack candy company, named Bob's, was the first to mass-produce candy canes around 1950. His brother-in-law Gregory Keller, a Catholic priest, developed and patented the first automated machine for manufacturing candy canes. Quickly the company also developed special boxes for shipping the delicate canes and Bob's became the largest producer of candy canes in the world.

The Shape and Color

There are many theories about the traditional cane shape, red and white colors, and the stripes of a candy cane. While the cane can represent a shepherd's staff, symbolizing Jesus as a shepherd of men, the inverted cane also becomes a "J" for Jesus. The white, the original color due to the high cost of dyes, can represent the purity of Jesus and the red may symbolize the sacrifices he made. Three red stripes represent the Holy Trinity. Whether real or imagined, these ideas persist for explaining the history of candy canes.

Unique Candy Canes

Candy manufacturers now create a wide variety of sizes, flavors, and colors for candy canes. You will easily find flavors such as cherry, cinnamon, and spearmint. Interested in all-natural candy canes? Visit HearthSong. For chocolate mint canes, visit Hershey's. Be watchful for new flavors from Jelly Belly, Starburst, and other popular candy companies.

Using Candy Canes

There are so many ways to use candy canes during the holidays! Hang them from your tree and make them part of package decorations. Crush them to sprinkle on top of whipped cream for hot chocolate or mix with chocolate to make peppermint bark.


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