Candy canes are, as most of you know, are sticks of red and white sticks of peppermint-flavored hard candy. They are associated with St. Nicholas Day and Christmas. Modern candy canes now come in a variety of colors and flavors. But how and when did they first come into existence and become associated with Christmas?
The popular, but unverified story of the candy cane's origin takes us back to 1670 Cologne, Germany. According to the story, the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral wanted something to keep the children quiet during the annual Living Crèche tradition on Christmas Eve so he asked the local candy maker for some "sugar sticks" to help with the task of quieting the little ones. To justify giving candy to the children during worship service, he asked the candy maker to put a cook in the stick to help the children remember the shepherds who visited the infant Jesus. He also asked for these candy "canes" to be colored white to teach the children about the Christian belief of the sinless life of Jesus.
From Germany, these new candy canes spread to other countries in Europe where they were handed out during plays reenacting the Nativity. This is the legend of how they came to be associated with the Christmas season.
The earliest verifiable reference to stick candy appeared a little more recently, at an 1837 Exhibition of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association where confections judged competitively. A recipe for straight peppermint candy sticks, white with colored stripes, was published in 1844. The "candy cane" is also mentioned in literature from 1866, although no description of color or flavoring is discussed. Its earliest known verifiable association to Christmas came in 1874. And by 1882, Candy canes were being hung on Christmas trees.
We have candy canes in the Land of Lily Pad, although they are not peppermint flavored, nor are they red and white. There, the young tadpoles and froglets like my little brother Quigley, prefer their canes flavored with bug juice and colored in lovely shades of brown and swamp green.
I hope you'll join me tomorrow for Day Two of my Christmas Week blogs; Fun Facts about Christmas. Until then I wish you,