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True Stripes: Interesting Facts About Candy Canes

14:00 December 23, 2020
By: Melanie Hucklebridge

Candy canes are a traditional peppermint candy found around Christmas that are used to decorate trees, to add a fun flair to hot chocolate, and even act as a sweet but simple party favor. Candy canes are known for their hook shape and are used for just about all Christmas decorating. Whether you like the peppermint sticks or not, they are an icon of the Christmas season, and everyone should know a few fun facts about the festive candy.

1. While the candy canes that we all know and love now are striped, they haven't always been that way. People aren't sure when the red stripe was added to the candy, but they do know that many Christmas cards and images that predate the 1900s only show images of a purely white cane.

2. Candy canes are quite a classic treat! Legends say that they were first distributed in about 1670, but the hooked shape came from a choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany. They were given to children to keep them quiet during services. They didn't arrive in America until 1847.

3. The hooked candy was made by hand until 1921, when Brasher O. Westerfield invented a machine that could make the canes automatically. Later, in 1937, another inventor named Robert I. Strongin made a machine that produced candy canes in a more effective manner. It is a long and difficult process to make them by hand, so this kind of innovation practically revolutionized the Christmas candy.

4. There are nearly two billion candy canes made each year, and nearly all of them are sold within the month leading up to Hanukkah and Christmas. Not all of them are peppermint, however, since there are tons of unique varieties of the candy canes to satisfy every sweet tooth, including everything from blue raspberry to pickle flavors.

5. Even though we traditionally eat more candy canes before Christmas, National Candy Cane Day is celebrated on December 26 in the United States. It is the perfect time to get your candy canes off the tree and use them in some great recipes. Stir them in hot chocolate, bake them in brownies, or even crumble them on cheesecake.

6. If you're looking at doing some baking with the family, think about trying out a homemade candy cane recipe. With everyone home this year, you'll have plenty of time and manpower to make your own candy canes at home. Check out this recipe from The Spruce Eats for a simple recipe for making your own Christmas candy.

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