The holidays abound with unique treats and eats, but no confection is quite as synonymous with Yuletide sweets as the candy cane.
These typically peppermint candies get handed out by mall Santas and children alike with nary a thought about how they came to be such a significant part of the holiday season.
Read on to discover seven truly interest facts about the storied history of these crooked treats.
1. They Invented Candy Canes To Silence Children
Folklore states that this sugary treat was born in Cologne, Germany circa 1670. A local choirmaster hoping to quiet children during Christmas Eve services asked a nearby candy maker to make some sweet sticks for the kids to suck on. (Not creepy at all.) Hence, the candy cane was born.
2. They’re Meant To Resemble A Shepherd’s Crook
To justify distributing candy during Sunday services the dynamic confectionary duo decided to shape them like shepherds’ crooks to remind children of the shepherds that were the first to visit Jesus during the nativity.
3. Or Maybe It Just Represents Jesus
Alternatively, it can be claimed that the cane is in the shape of a capital “J,” which stands for “Jesus.” Either way, the treat’s finger-friendly design owes a lot to this brilliant innovation.
4. The White Symbolizes Purity While Red Represents Atonement
The canes were initially all white, which religious figures claimed symbolized the pure life of Christ. Around 1900, they added red stripes that supposedly represented the blood that Jesus shed in the atonement.
Throughout its history, though, both varieties of the candy have faithfully reproduced the fresh, minty flavor that Christ has always been known for.
5. The Largest Candy Cane Ever Was 51 Feet Long
The biggest candy cane ever made was created by Swiss chef Alain Roby in 2011, and measured 51 feet long, blowing away the previous record of 36 feet 7 inches, also set by Roby.
A food artist, Roby also holds records for tallest cooked sugar building and tallest chocolate structure. It’s also safe to assume that he lives in a house made of gumdrops, and his wife is nothing more than a bundle of Red Vines.
6. Hammond’s Candies Is The World’s Oldest Handmade Candy Cane Producer
Nestled in Denver, Colorado, Hammond’s started making candy canes the old-fashioned way 95 years ago (or as it was known then, just “fashioned”). Though it’s not too difficult to try making canes yourself, it’s probably best to leave the handling of molten sugar and corn syrup to the professionals.
7. Some of The Flavors Are Less Classic
While the peppermint flavor of traditional candy canes has become a winter tradition, some foodstuffs have made more ill-advised forays into the realm of striped sticks. Oddball flavors candidates include Sriracha, wasabi, gravy, bacon, Hawaiian Punch, and dill pickle.
While they’re certainly eye-grabbing, they’re maybe not the best thing to pair with hot cocoa.