Ahh, yes…the CANDY CANE. Those oh-so-delectable hard sugar sticks practically scream ‘the holidays’, don’t they? The legend goes that these sweet treats …appeared nearly 350 years ago when a choirmaster in Germany bent white sugar-sticks into canes to represent a shepherd’s staff — although there’s no documentation from the 17th-century to validate such a fact, the story has transcended time. And then a few years after that, in the mid 1600s, sugar roses were added to the treats. Eventually the roses fell out of favor for the plain white canes until the red ‘n white stripes we love today were added around 1890, and no one really knows WHO introduced the colorful swirls to the white.
But, the FIRST candy canes in America appeared in 1847 when a German immigrant living in Wooster, Ohio looped the tasty candy canes he brought with him from Europe over the boughs of his Christmas tree. After that, the sale of the treats boomed, and eventually, in 1919, the ‘Famous Candy Company’ [later, Bob’s Candies] in Albany, Georgia took the honor of being the world’s largest candy cane maker. But, way back then, each flavor-filled stick was formed by hand & was quite a timely process.
In 1957 all was about to change when a Catholic priest named Gregory Keller [brother-in-law of the candy company’s owner, Bob McCormick] finally invented a simple devise which was dubbed ‘The Keller’ machine. This implement automated the making of the popular sugar sticks and forevermore streamlined the candy cane process.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “The legends of the candy cane are many, including that the cane was shaped like a “J” for Jesus, the three red stripes symbolized the Holy Trinity, the hardness of the candy represented the Church’s foundation on solid rock and the peppermint flavor reflects the use of hyssop [an herb referred to in the Old Testament].” Of course, none of these are proven historical facts, but they do make up a wonderful tale. So, come THIS holiday season, when you’re ‘decking the halls’, don’t forget to include a couple o’ Candy Canes…they’ve been welcoming in Christmas for hundreds ‘n hundreds of years. Oh, and btw, the curved part of the cane is called the “warble,” and the straight part is called the strabe…so there you have it, the history o’ the beloved candy cane. Happy holidays, y’all. ☺