2011-12-14 / Features

Candy Canes

Did you know December 26 is National Candy Cane Day? What better reward for the sweetly striped symbols of the holiday season.

The history of candy canes dates back to December 1670, when the choirmaster of the Cologne Cathedral in Germany gave sugar sticks in the shape of shepherd’s crooks to his young singers to keep them silent during a long performance of “The Nativity”.

In 1847, German immigrant August Ingaid unknowingly started a holiday tradition when he decorated a small spruce tree in his Ohio home with the bent sticks. But it wasn’t until the turn of the century that red and white stripes and peppermint flavors were added to the sticks, and they were renamed “candy canes”.

In the mid 1920s, Robert McCormack, of Albany, Georgia, made candy canes as Christmas treats for his children, shaping the sticks by hand, adding the peppermint flavor and painting them with their classic red, foodcolor stripes.

It wasn’t until the late 1950s that the sticks were mass-produced by McCormack’s brotherin law, Gregory Keller, who invented a machine to produce candy canes as we know them today.

Months later, Keller designed packaging that prevented the “shepherd’s crooks” from breaking in shipment.

New-millennium manufacturers produce more than 1.76 billion candy canes each year, enough to line the route to and from Santa’s North Pole Workshop 32 times.

The largest candy cane made in the U.S. weighed more than 100 pounds, and stood a whopping 5-feet, 2-inches tall.

—Liz Goff

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