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Christmas Candy Canes

Updated on November 27, 2013

In Celebration of the Candy Cane!

It wouldn't be Christmas without candy canes, those ubiquitous red-and-white striped, hooked sticks of peppermint candy. Almost everyone loves them, and they're great for decorating, cooking, or just eating. Learn when and why these delicious treats were invented, find books and DVDs about their legend, and read some tasty candy cane recipes. Here's to Christmas candy canes!

(Image of personalized Santa candy cane ornament provided by

The history of the candy cane can be traced back to Germany. In 1670, the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral was said to have bent straight white candy sticks into the now-familiar "J" shape to represent a shepherd's staff. He then gave them to children in the choir to keep them happy during long Christmas services. The custom soon spread throughout Europe.

Later, candy canes came to America. A German immigrant by the name of August Imgard was the first person to decorate his Christmas tree with candy canes, back in 1847.

Up until this time, candy canes were all-white. It wasn't until about 50 years later that the first red-and-white striped variety appeared. No historical records exist to show who or why the stripes were added, but prior to 1900, Christmas cards only showed all-white candy canes. After that year, striped candy canes became more common.

Around this same time, it's thought that candy makers started adding peppermint flavors to their candy canes, and this soon became the norm. Now candy canes can be found in all sizes and flavors, from green apple to chocolate, but the familiar red and white stripes are still the most popular.

(Image credit: Zazzle)

History suggests that the familiar staff-shaped candy cane does have Christian roots, as noted above, but no evidence exists to suggest it was invented as a secret symbol for Christianity or to represent Jesus, as some legends have suggested. However, many people still find it a powerful symbol of the season, and prefer the Christian legend.

This is one version of the Christian candy cane story:

A candymaker in Indiana wanted to make a candy for Christmas that incorporated symbols from the birth, life and death of Jesus Christ.

He began with a stick of pure white candy to symbolize the virgin birth and the purity of Jesus. He then shaped it in the form of a "J" to represent the name of Jesus and the staff of the "Good Shepherd." Finally, he added red stripes to symbolize Jesus' blood and suffering on the cross.

The candymaker hoped that each time someone ate his creation they would be reminded of Jesus and the great love God gave us at Christmas.


The story of the Indiana candymaker has been widely circulated and retold, while other stories suggest the candy cane was created long ago as a secret symbol that would allow persecuted Christians to identify one another. Neither version fits the timeline of historical records. The German choirmaster who is credited with turning the usual straight candy sticks into staff-shaped sweets lived in the late 17th century, long after most of Europe had become Christian, and well before Indiana became a state or candy canes came to America. Also, historical records from various parts of the world show the canes were all-white until the early 1900s.

But for those who believe, candy canes are still a wonderful Christian symbol of Christmas.

(Image of Jesus candy cane ornament from Zazzle)

The Candy Cane Legend - Popular children's book tells a Christian tale of the candy cane's history

This wonderful book for children tells the Christian candy cane legend.

The Legend of the Candy Cane: The Inspirational Story of Our Favorite Christmas Candy
The Legend of the Candy Cane: The Inspirational Story of Our Favorite Christmas Candy
From Amazon: For those who cringe at the creeping materialism surrounding Christmas, a pious story about the origins of the candy cane is definitely a change of pace. A stranger arrives in town one dreary November and begins hammering and sawing away at his newly rented storefront. When a small girl offers her help, she's in for a childhood fantasy-come-true, as it turns out all the shelves and counters are being built for a candy shop. After offering young Lucy gumdrops and lollipops, Mr. Sonneman launches into the history of the candy cane. With his guidance, she discovers that the upturned candy is in the shape of a j--for Jesus. Right side up it looks like a shepherd's staff. And the red stripes? The blood of Christ from his terrible whipping. Lucy and Mr. Sonneman set out on a quest to share this story with everyone in town. Their message (and their gift of the pepperminty red-and-white sticks) brings the whole town together in a joyful celebration of Christmas (and candy). James Bernardin's old-timey acrylic and colored pencil illustrations are reminiscent of Norman Rockwell, but depict both modern and biblical times. Candy canes will never taste quite the same again.

The Christmas Candy Cane Story on DVD - Bestselling book was turned into an animated show for kids

This DVD is the animated adaptation of the bestselling book above by Lori Walburg.

The Legend of the Candy Cane
The Legend of the Candy Cane
Based on the bestselling book, The Legend of the Candy Cane is an inspirational animated Christmas story brimming with Christian virtues. A stranger named John Sonneman and the young Matt, who has recently lost his parents, journey to the sleepy prairie town of West Sage in the company of a talking horse and a mountain goat that's afraid of heights. The newcomers' tempestuous acceptance into the small community effects positive change in the lives of themselves, the townspeople, and even the animals. As John Sonneman prepares to open a candy shop, he bestows a small but priceless gift on a now-motherless girl named Lucy--a red and white striped, peppermint candy cane replete with Christian symbolism. Bright animation, engaging Christian popular and jazz songs, and a timeless message about hope and the power of the individual make this a modern Christmas classic.

Dress Your Car Like a Christmas Candy Cane - Deck your car in red-striped candy

Mystic Industries Candy Cane Vehicle Costume
Mystic Industries Candy Cane Vehicle Costume
Turns your car into a festive, rolling holiday greeting.

Although history doesn't corroborate the idea that the candy cane was invented as a Christian symbol for Jesus, many people enjoy the symbolism. These Christmas Jesus candy cane poems celebrate the Christian folklore of the popular holiday treat.

Jesus, Gentle Shepherd,

this cane of red and white

proclaims the sweet love story

born on Christmas night

This cane, you see, when turned around

begins your name of love

and now becomes a symbol

of peace proclaimed above

The lively peppermint flavor

is the regal gift of spice

The white is your purity

and the red your sacrifice

And so this cane reminds us

of just how much you care

and like your Christmas gift to us

it's meant for all to share


A significant symbol of Christmas

Is the simple candy cane.

It's shape is the crook of the shepherd,

One of the first who came.

The lively peppermint flavor is

The regal gift of spice.

The white is Jesus' purity.

The red is sacrifice.

The narrow stripes are friendship

And the nearness of his love.

Eternal, sweet compassion,

A gift from God above.

The candy cane reminds us all

how much God loved and cared.

And like His Christmas gift to us

It's meant to be broken and shared.

Traditional or New-Fangled?

How do you like your candy canes?

Candy Cane Cocoa Recipe

Mmm, mmm good on those cold days!

To make candy cane cocoa, you'll need the following ingredients:

- 4 cups milk

- 1 oz semisweet chocolate squares, chopped into small pieces

- 4 peppermint candy canes, crushed

- 1 cup whipped cream

- 4 small peppermint candy canes


Heat the milk in a saucepan until it's the desired temperate. Do not boil. Then whisk in the chocolate pieces and the crushed peppermint candies until melted. Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream. Add a small candy cane to each mug to serve as a stirring stick. Serves four.

This recipe for candy cane cookies is from You'll need the following ingredients:

- 1 cup margarine

- 1/2 cup white sugar

- 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

- 1 egg

- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

- 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

- 1/2 teaspoon salt

- 1/2 teaspoon red food coloring

- 1/2 cup peppermint candy canes, crushed

- 1/2 cup white sugar for decoration


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl, cream together the margarine, white sugar and confectioners' sugar. Beat in the egg, vanilla and peppermint extracts. Combine the flour and salt; stir into the creamed mixture until well blended. Cover or wrap dough and chill for at least one hour.

Grease cookie sheets. Divide dough into halves. Color one half red by mixing in the food color. Roll a small amount of each dough into a 2 inch long worm. Roll them together in a twisted rope and curve the end like a cane. Place onto prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. In a small bowl, mix together the crushed candy cane and remaining white sugar. Roll hot cookies in the sugar mixture.

Do You Love Candy Canes?

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    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Yes I love Candy Canes. Lovely lens, puts me in the holiday mood!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      We have regular sweet kind here and I don't like it much. Now I see those are not the real thing :)

    • Gayle Dowell profile image

      Gayle Dowell 

      9 years ago from Kansas

      Lovely lens on candy canes. Squid angel blessed!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I live in England where candy canes are not associated with Christmas as they are in the USA. I can't say I would get too excited about them as they seem to be very similar to Seaside Rock, which I don't enjoy.

      Great lens. Squid-liked and Angel-blessed.

    • Merstarr profile image


      9 years ago

      I always thought they came from Santa's toy shop, as some kind of extension of the north 'pole'.. Don't even know if anyone ever told me that, but it's what I figured as a child and never thought about again... until today :)

    • sharioleary profile image

      Shari O'Leary 

      9 years ago from Minnesota

      Love those candy canes. I also make the candy cane cookies you have the recipe for. Yum, yum!

    • Joy Neasley profile image

      Joy Neasley 

      10 years ago from Nashville, TN

      It would not be Christmas without the Red and White Candy Canes hanging on the tree.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Great lens, I like how you made the lens. I am a fan already.

    • profile image

      lasertek lm 

      10 years ago

      We don't miss out on candy canes during Christmas. It is one treat that has become a part of our tradition.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Really nice,interesting lens! Love Candy Canes myself in tea or hot chocolate!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Candycanes are a must every Christmas.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      It's only October and I'm already thinking about Christmas trees and candy canes and gift-giving. Then I happen to read your lens about candy canes and how it came to be. I love the story behind it and will be keeping your candy cane cocoa recipe for the holidays.

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 

      11 years ago from Concord VA

      I do love candy canes! I usually buy up a few boxes so I'll have plenty to last after Christmas, too. I'm lensrolling you with my Christmas lenses.

    • AlisonMeacham profile image


      11 years ago

      I never knew there was so much history surrounding the candy cane. Squid Angel Blessings to you

    • RedPanda25 profile image


      12 years ago

      This is a great lens! 5* Welcome to my Candy group. Keep up all the good work!

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image


      12 years ago

      Who would have thought that candy canes would be as interesting as you made them in this lens! ***** to you!

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      I do love candy canes, and I love this lens. Great job!

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      Awesome lens. Lensrolled to my Christmas Symbols lens and 5 stars!!

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      When my husband and I first married, we had few decorations for the Christmas tree. We would always fill in the gaps with candy canes. They're pretty and they taste good too.

      Great lens


    • profile image


      12 years ago

      Great lens on candy canes, I to made a lens about candy canes. If you have time check it.


    • profile image


      12 years ago

      I do love them. I like to have enough to put some on my tree. This is a very cute lens. Five stars and a lensroll. Have time, please visit my new lens: christmasshoping2008.

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      I love candy canes! They make great Christmas decorations, too!.

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      Thanks for joining G Rated Lense Factory!

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      Welcome to the Totally Awesome Lenses Group.



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