As a classic Christmas song goes, “Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the Christmas candy.” (Okay, so maybe it’s only a Christmas classic to those who owned the 1969 Snoopy’s Christmas album, but it’s still a classic, nonetheless.) And when you think of Christmas candy, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Why, of course, it’s the candy cane!
In fact, according to a 2017 Food and Wine article on the top selling Christmas candy in each state, candy canes performed especially high in seven states – Delaware, Georgia, Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Washington – where they act as both a Christmas candy and a Christmas tree ornament.
So how did this peppermint stick become part of some of our unique family traditions? That’s what we’re going to find out today as we explore the origins of the most popular Christmas candy in America – the candy cane.
Shouldn’t We Be Calling Them Candy Crooks?
Back in the late 17th century, pulled sugars (what we know today as candy sticks) were all the rage with European children, especially in Germany. It was at this time, in 1670 to be exact, that a German choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral is said to have handed out these candy sticks to his young choir members in order to keep them quiet during the living Nativity ceremony they were participating in.
A few days later, it seems that the board members of the church weren’t too keen on the choirmaster’s idea of keeping the kids quiet. After all, the church was a solemn place and, therefore, was no place for things like sweets. To appease them, the clever choirmaster came up with another idea. He bent the sticks into hooks at the top so they resembled a shepherd’s crook, thus representing the humble shepherds who were first to worship the newborn Christ. As a result, the board was okay with the symbolism and the candy cane was born.
Candy Canes Earn Their Stripes
It wouldn’t be until 177 years later that the white candy cane would make its American debut when, in 1847, August Imgard, a German-Swedish immigrant now living in Wooster, Ohio, decorated his small blue spruce with paper ornaments and candy canes.
So, when did the candy cane get its iconic red and white stripes?
Well, we can thank the church (and clever marketing) for that. That’s right, the very organization that once shunned sweets started embracing the candy cane and started using the sweet treat as a teaching tool. And that’s when the red stripes (and peppermint flavoring) started showing up.
With the stripes came stories about how the white represented the sinless Jesus and the red was for the blood He shed for sinners. Then there were the stories about the candy canes being a kind of 17th century secret code used among persecuted Christians in Germany and England; for example, if the candy cane had three red stripes, it represented the Holy Trinity.
Another one says that the shape of the candy cane is not really a shepherd’s crook, but actually, if you turn it upside-down, it becomes the letter “J” which stands for “Jehoshephat”, the ancient Biblical king of Judea, who apparently liked to jump a lot, hence the term “Jumping Jehoshephat”. Just kidding. Of course the “J” is for “Jesus”. After all, it’s called “Christmas” not “Jehoshephatmas.”
Some Other Fun Facts about Candy Canes
- According to the a survey taken by the National Confectioners Association, 72% of people think that the proper way to eat a candy cane is by starting on the straight end, whereas 28% start at the curved end.
- Since their inception in the 17th century, candy canes were made my hand. That all changed in 1921, when Brasher O. Westerfield invented a machine that could make candy canes automatically, because with a name like “Brasher”, of course he did!
- The average candy cane is 5 inches long, contains no fat or cholesterol, and only has about 50 calories.
- Though traditional candy canes are peppermint flavored, today you can find whatever flavor suits your taste from green apple to pickles.
- Americans celebrate National Candy Cane Day every year on December 26.
- The curved part of the candy cane is called the warble, and the straight part is called the strabe.
- In 2012, pastry chef Alain Roby of Geneva, Illinois, created the world’s largest candy cane at 51 feet long.
- 1.76 billion candy canes are produced every year in America
So, thanks for “stick”ing around to hear the story of the candy cane. As you can tell, we’re just nuts about Christmas here at Stuckey’s.
And speaking of Christmas nuts and Stuckey’s, if you haven’t gotten all of your Christmas shopping done yet, why not stop in to one of our Stuckey’s locations near you and pick up some of our world famous Stuckey’s Pecan Log Rolls? They make great stocking stuffers for everyone on your Christmas list. Better yet, grab a few boxes of them along with a box or two of our pecan divinity, pecan pralines, or other fine pecan candies and pass them out at the company Christmas party. And whether they’re Stuckey’s or Front Porch Pecans, don’t forget to have some of our flavored and chocolate-covered pecans on hand for any holiday guests.
Still can’t make up your mind? Then get them all bundle up in one gift with our variety of gift boxes, available in one that’s just perfect for whoever you’re giving it to.
No Stuckey’s near you? No problem! Visit the Stuckey’s website at stuckeys.com and have all of that’s mentioned and more delivered directly to your front door. But hurry and order today to guarantee delivery by Christmas!
Stuckey’s – We’re Making Road Trips (and Holidays) Fun Again.
Whether your next road trip is by car or by rail, it’s not really a road trip without taking Stuckey’s along. From our world famous Stuckey’s Pecan Log Rolls to our mouthwatering Hunkey Dorey, Stuckey’s has all the road trips snacks you’ll need to get you where you’re going.
For all of the pecany good treats and cool merch you’ll need for your next big road adventure, browse our online store now!
Stuckey’s – We’re Making Road Trips Fun Again!