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National Candy Cane Day

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The Evolution of the Modern Day Candy Cane

Candy canes have been enjoyed for many years as sugary treats, stocking stuffers, and as festive decorations at Christmas time. The candy canes long-time popularity has earned the confection a special designated day: National Candy Cane Day, observed annually in the U.S. on December 26th.

The most popular legend about the candy canes origin dates back to 1670 in Germany. There, so the story goes, a choirmaster at a Cologne cathedral handed out candy sticks to young singers as a way to keep the children quiet during the lengthy Living Creche (Nativity) service.

The first reference to the candy cane in this country dates back to 1847 when a German-Swedish immigrant, August Imgard, hung candy canes on a spruce tree at his home in Wooster, Ohio.

Another story relates that an Indiana candy maker, wishing to pass on his religious beliefs to others, made candy canes. The candys white color symbolized the Virgin Birth and Christs sinless nature. The crooked shape of the candy cane represented a shepherds staff. Turned upside-down, the candy cane looked like the letter J, and stood for the name of Jesus. The candy canes red stripes, some suggest, represented the blood of Christ.

The original candy cane was a straight stick of white candy, some researchers claim. Candy makers stained red stripes on candy canes around 1900, and flavored the candy with peppermint, referring to the cleansing properties of Hyssop, as noted in the Bible.

In 1919, candy maker Bob McCormack of Albany, Georgia, attempted to produce candy canes but found mass-production of the candies too difficult to achieve. In the 1950s, McCormacks brother-in-law, Gregory Keller, invented a machine that increased mass-production speed. As a result of Kellers ingenuity, Bobs Candies eventually became the worlds leading candy cane producer.

In March 1954, the Ohio-based Spangler Candy Company acquired the Detroit-based A-Z Candy Company, the nations largest candy cane producer (25 million candy canes per year). Today, Spangler Candy Company produces 2.7 million candy canes per day.

Nearly two-billion candy canes are produced each year.

The largest candy cane ever made measured 51 feet. Chef Alain Roby created the giant candy in 2012, breaking his third Guinness World Record.

Candy cane flavors have expanded in recent years. In addition to the traditional peppermint-flavored candy canes, candy lovers can choose from a wide variety of fruit-flavored candy canes, such as cherry, orange, pineapple, strawberry, apple, lemon, and blueberry. Other non-traditional flavors include tutti-frutti, cherry cola, Smarties, Jelly Belly, Dum Dum, Lifesavers, Jolly Rancher, Starburst, Everlasting Gobstopper, Lemonhead, Sour Patch, Pixy Stix, Swedish Fish, Bubble Gum, Red Hots, soda pop flavors, and Hawaiian Punch. Unusual flavors include molasses, cinnabon, birthday cake, dill pickle, sriracha, and gravy.

Plenty of candy canes are available to suit every taste, though you may have to shop online for some non-traditional flavors.


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