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The Birth of the Candy Cane

Updated on August 27, 2010

350 years. That's how long the origin of the Candy Cane dates back. Now I love Candy Canes. But will traditionally only devour them around Christmas time. Which I'm assuming is when everyone else gets their fill as well. There is nothing like the sweet peppermint taste of a Candy Cane. At least to me. And since I've been on the "food history" kick lately, I've decided to research the all to popular Candy Cane. Hope you enjoy!

The History...

 Not many people know that the original Candy Canes were just straight white sugar sticks, lacking in any real flavor at all. It wasn't until around 1670 when a choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany actually bent the sugar sticks into a cane shape to replicate the staff of a Shepard. Then, because the services at the Cathedral were so long, they handed the Candy Canes out to children. This custom of handing out the Candy Canes to children spread rapidly throughout Europe and later into America. At this point in time the now familiar Candy Canes were still all white. But some candy makers would add things like sugar roses to the sugar stick for more decoration.

The actual first historical reference of the candy cane in America goes back to about 1847. This is due to a German immigrant by the name of August Imgard. He used the Candy Canes to decorate his Christmas Tree in Wooster, Ohio.

Now it isn't known who actually invented the stripes in the Candy Canes. But it wasn't until about 50 years after the introduction of the Canes on Christmas trees that they started appearing. Christmas cards that date back before the year 1900 show the canes with no stripes and still in the original white color. But cards after the year 1900 show them with the traditional red and white stripes. It is around the same time that candy makers started adding the peppermint and wintergreen flavoring to the mix. And those flavors have become the traditional flavors and favorites to this day.

There are still so many legends and beliefs surrounding the actual history and meaning of the Candy Canes. Many of those beliefs and legends surround Christianity, and the Candy Cane was used as a symbol of secrecy among Christians. During a time when the Christians were living in an oppressed time period. They say that the "J" shape of the Candy Cane was the symbol for Jesus and that Christs blood and purity were the meaning of the red and white stripes. The Holy Trinity (Father, Son and the Holy Spirit) were the three red stripes and the hardness of the candy was the foundation of the Christian church and faith. Of course there is no historical evidence to back any of this up. But the thoughts are lovely and may hold some comfort for others.

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