Interesting facts about candy canes

candy cane

A candy cane is a cane-shaped stick candy.

It is usually white with red stripes and flavored with peppermint, but they also come in a variety of other flavors and colors.

The candy cane is a traditional candy of the Christmas holiday, but you can find them during the rest of the year.

Candy canes are the No.1 selling non-chocolate candy during the month of December, with 90 percent of the red and white striped treats sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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Their red and white stripes adorn trees and homes during the holidays.

Most people like peppermint candy canes for the refreshing, cool taste it leaves in their mouths. Peppermint oil and extracts, primarily the essential oil menthol, are used to flavour candy canes. Menthol is an alcohol known for its waxy, crystalline appearance and is responsible for the cooling sensation of mint.

It has been claimed that the cane was shaped like a “J” for “Jesus” and that the red-and-white stripes represented Christ’s blood and purity. The three red stripes were also said to symbolize the Holy Trinity and the hardness of the candy represented the Church’s foundation on solid rock. As for the candy cane’s peppermint flavor, it represented the use of hyssop, an herb referred to in the Old Testament.

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The original candy cane was made 350 years ago. In 1670, in Cologne, Germany, the choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral, wishing to remedy the noise caused by children in his church during the Living Crèche tradition of Christmas Eve, asked a local candy maker for some “sugar sticks” for them. In order to justify the practice of giving candy to children during worship services, he asked the candy maker to add a crook to the top of each stick, which would help children remember the shepherds who visited the infant Jesus. In addition, he used the white color of the converted sticks to teach children about the Christian belief in the sinless life of Jesus. From Germany, candy canes spread to other parts of Europe.

A record of the 1837 Exhibition of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association, where confections were judged competitively, mentions “stick candy”.

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A recipe for straight peppermint candy sticks, white with coloured stripes, was published in 1844.

The first documented example of the use of candy canes to celebrate Christmas occurred in 1847, when August Imgard, a German-Swedish immigrant, from Wooster, Ohio decorated the Christmas tree with paper ornaments and candy canes.

The “candy cane” is found in literature in 1866, though no description of color or flavor was provided.

The Nursery monthly magazine noted them in association with Christmas in 1874, and the Babyland magazine mentioned canes being hung on Christmas trees in 1882.

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At the beginning of the 20th century, the first red-and-white-striped candy canes appeared. No one knows who exactly invented the stripes, but based on historical Christmas cards, we know that no striped candy canes appeared prior to the year 1900. Illustrations of striped candy canes didn’t even show up until the beginning of the 20th century.

As with other forms of stick candy, the earliest canes were manufactured by hand.

In 1919 in Albany, Georgia, Robert McCormack began making candy canes for local children and by the middle of the century, his company (originally the Famous Candy Company, then the Mills-McCormack Candy Company, and later Bobs Candies) had become one of the world’s leading candy cane producers.

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Chicago confectioners the Bunte Brothers filed one of the earliest patents for candy cane making machines in the early 1920s.

Candy cane manufacturing initially required a fair bit of labor that limited production quantities – the canes had to be bent manually as they came off the assembly line to create their curved shape and breakage often ran over 20 percent.

McCormack’s brother-in-law, Gregory Harding Keller, was a seminary student in Rome who spent his summers working in the candy factory back home.

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In 1957, Keller, as an ordained Roman Catholic priest of the Diocese of Little Rock, patented his invention, the Keller Machine, which automated the process of twisting soft candy into spiral
striping and cutting it into precise lengths as candy canes.

On Saint Nicholas Day celebrations, candy canes are given to children as they are also said to represent the crosier of the Christian bishop, Saint Nicholas – crosiers allude to the Good Shepherd,
an epithet associated with Jesus.

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About 2 billion candy canes are produced in the United States annually.

The most candy canes on a Christmas tree is 6,425 and was achieved by the Winter Wonderland Group (USA) in Grove City, Ohio, USA, on 17 November 2018.

The longest line of candy canes consists of 7,735 candy canes – the length of the line measured 1,030.14 m (3,379.72 ft). It was achieved by World Vision Canada, at Hamilton District Christian
High, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, on 15 December 2016.

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