Not only are candy canes used as sweet Christmastime treats, but they are also used for decoration. How did this seasonal candy get its familiar shape, and when did it become part of Christmas tradition? From its plain early beginnings to its familiar shape and colors of today, the candy cane is a symbol of Christmas and a reminder of the meaning of the holiday. The origin of the candy cane goes back over 350 years, when candymakers both professional and amateur were making hard sugar sticks. The original candy was straight and completely white in color. Around the seventeenth century, European-Christians began to adopt the use of Christmas trees as part of their Christmas celebrations. They made special decorations for their trees from foods like cookies and sugar-stick candy.
The first historical reference to the familiar cane shape goes back to 1670, when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany bent the sugar-sticks into canes to represent a shepherd’s staff. The all-white candy canes were given out to children during the long-winded nativity services. The clergymen’s custom of handing out candy canes during Christmas services spread throughout Europe and later to America. The canes were still white, but sometimes the candymakers would add sugar-roses to decorate the canes further. It was not until the early 1900’s that the first red-and-white striped candy canes appeared. No one knows exactly who invented the stripes. Christmas cards prior to the year 1900 showed only all-white candy canes. Christmas cards after 1900 showed illustrations of striped candy canes. Around the same time, candymakers added peppermint and wintergreen flavors to their candy canes and those flavors then became the traditional favorites.
Decoration or treat, one thing is for sure—candy canes are sweet, sometimes minty and always delicious!
Candy Cane Fudge
A Byers Family RecipeOpen Recipe
- 1/3 cup butter or margarine
- 4 cups sugar
- 1 12-oz can of evaporated milk
- 1 7-oz container of marshmallow cream
- 24-oz bag of baking chips—white or milk chocolate
- 2 tsp. vanilla or peppermint extract
- 6 candy canes chopped into small pieces
Combine the butter, sugar and milk in a large sauce pan.
Bring to a boil. Boil for 6 minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and add marshmallow cream, chocolate chips, vanilla and 1/2 of the chopped candy canes. Mix until well-blended.
Pour mixture into a greased 9x12” pan. Sprinkle with remaining candy cane pieces.
Cool at room temperature. Cut diagonally into serving-sized pieces to form diamond shapes