Christmas Candy Canes
Christmas candy canes are hard, cane-shaped, candy sticks. They are traditionally white with red stripes and flavored with peppermint; however, they are also made in a variety of other flavors and colored stripes, and have long been a symbol associated with Christmas.
Christmas candy canes date back over 300 years and were originally straight, hard, and all-white candy sticks. Around the seventeenth century, Christians in Europe began to adopt the use of Christmas trees as part of their Christmas celebrations. They made special decorations for their trees from foods like cookies and sugar stick candy.
The first historical reference to the familiar cane shape dates as far back as 1670, when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany, bent the sugar sticks into canes to represent a shepherd’s staff. These Christmas candy canes were then handed out to children during nativity services. This custom of handing out candy canes during Christmas services spread throughout Europe and later to America.
The peppermint candy with red stripes first appeared in the mid-19th century in the Swedish town of Granna, and striped Christmas candy canes in the early 20th century. The first historical reference to the candy cane being in America goes back to 1847, when August Imgard, a German immigrant, decorated the Christmas tree in his Ohio home with candy canes. It’s not clear who came up with the idea of striping candy canes, but it’s known that Christmas cards prior to the year 1900 showed only all-white candy canes, where Christmas cards after 1900 showed illustrations of striped candy canes.
Chicago confectioners, the Bunte Brothers, filed one of the earliest patents for candy cane making machines in the early 1920s. It’s about that same time that candy makers began adding peppermint and wintergreen flavors to their candy canes, which grew to become traditional favorite flavors.
In the 1950’s a Catholic priest named Gregory Keller invented a machine to automate Christmas candy cane production. Today, nearly 2 billion candy canes will be sold in the four weeks before Christmas.
Candy canes are sometimes used as a topping for foods such as ice cream or as an additive to drinks such as hot chocolate. They are also hung as decorations on Christmas Trees or added as a decoration to Christmas bouquets.
Here’s a recipe for some Candy Cane Hot Chocolate:
- 4 cups milk
- 3 (1 ounce) squares semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 4 peppermint candy canes, crushed
- 1 cup whipped cream
- Candy canes for garnish/stir sticks
In a saucepan, heat milk until hot, but not boiling. Whisk in the chocolate and the crushed peppermint candies until melted and smooth. Pour hot cocoa into four mugs, and garnish with whipped cream. Serve each with a candy cane stirring stick.
The rich flavor of chocolate combines so well with peppermint. This is the perfect drink to sip while trimming the tree. You can go on over to Amazon and get a great assortment of Christmas mugs for your minty hot chocolate!