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Thursday, December 15, 2011

The HiStory of The Candy Cane

The HiStory of The Candy Cane
History of everyone's favorite Christmas candy

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.

 Was the Candy Cane Invented as a Christian Symbol?

Many believe the Christmas candy is a symbol of Christ

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 candy maker 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.
Hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed sharing it. :) 

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