Candy canes: A holiday favorite since 17th century

If you were to look at the original candy canes, you wouldn’t recognize them as the present day candy. The first historical reference to a candy cane was in 1670. Many candy makers were selling hard candy sticks that were straight, plain, and white. In Germany a choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral bent the stick of candy to look like a shepherd’s staff. The clergymen handed the candy out to children during the drawn out Christmas services. This tradition spread though all of Europe and eventually made its way to America.

Candy makers in America began adding sugar-rose to make the candy more decorative. About 50 years later the first stripes appeared on the candy. Historians figured this timing out by looking at the Christmas cards and saw that the cards prior to 1900 showed all white canes. Peppermint and wintergreen flavors were then added to candy canes.

Some people believe that candy canes are secret symbols for Christianity when Christians were the oppressed minority. The shape of the cane was a “j” that stood for Jesus. The red represented Christ’s blood and the white was his purity. There were 3 stripes and that symbolized the Holy Trinity. The hardness of the candy stood for the Church’s foundation on the solid rock. The peppermint and wintergreen represented the reference to hyssop which was an herb referred to in the Old Testament. However, there is no solid historical evidence that supports this theory.

Now there are many different flavors used to make candy canes. There’s everything from piña colada to blueberry.

“My favorite flavor is definitely blue-raspberry,” Anna Sall said.


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