We all look for candy canes this time of year. Traditionally they are white with red stripes and are peppermint flavored. Through the years many other flavors and colors have evolved. The first historical reference goes back to 1670, in Cologne, Germany, when a choirmaster looked for a way to keep the children quiet during the Living Creche tradition on Christmas Eve. He asked a local candy maker to make some sweet sticks. In order to justify giving the children candy, he asked to have a crook on the top of each stick to help the children remember the shepherds who paid visit to the baby Jesus. He felt that the white color would teach the children about the sinless life of Jesus. From Germany, the candy canes spread to other parts of Europe where they were handed out during plays reenacting the Nativity.
The first historical reference to the candy cane in America was in 1847, when a German immigrant named August Imgard decorated his Christmas tree with candy canes. It was 50 years later that the candy canes had a red stripe added. It is unknown who exactly invented the stripes. Some say it was candy maker Bob McCormack, who later became one of the world’s largest producers of peppermint candy canes. It was around that same time that the peppermint flavor was added.
There are many legends and beliefs regarding the candy cane that have no historical evidence to support them. But that does not discount these lovely thoughts. Many depict the candy cane as a symbol for Christianity. The cane is shaped like a “J” for Jesus. The red and white stripes represent Christ’s blood and purity. The three red stripes symbolize the Holy Trinity. The candy hardness represents the Church’s solid foundation. And the peppermint flavor represents the use of hyssop, an herb referred to in the Old Testament.
Stripes of red on cane of white,
Oh, what a very pretty sight.
Nothing else is ever quite
As sweet as peppermint delight.
Some fun facts:
-The largest candy cane ever created was made in 2001. It measured 58 ft and 2.25 inches!
-In 2012, 900 pounds of sugar was used to create a 51 ft candy cane!
-About 1.76 billion candy canes are produced every year!
-Some outrageous flavors created are bacon, wasabi, dill pickle and gravy!
All of us at Pahl’s Market wish you a very Merry Christmas!