What are holidays without those delicious sweet treats? Nearly every holiday has a corresponding confection that seems to go hand in hand. Easter has chocolate bunnies and Peeps™, Valentine’s Day has gourmet chocolates, Halloween is a candy company’s dream and Christmas is for candy canes.
Unlike most candy, candy canes were designed with a purpose and even their shape and color has special significance. During the 17th century people began to decorate their trees with fruits and sweet treats. One such treat was a straight white stick. It was the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany who first bent the straight stick into the hook we know today. In 1670 he bent the stick to the shape of a shepherd’s staff. He also gave out these confections to children during the nativity services in order to pacify them through the long service. From Germany this tradition spread and eventually made its way to America by 1847.
By this time these canes were decorated with sugar roses. It would not be until almost the 20th century that the red stripe would be added to the canes. Along with the stripe, peppermint and wintergreen flavors were added to enhance the flavor. While many companies have expanded on the flavors of candy canes, the original peppermint and wintergreen are still favorites today.*