With the start of the holiday season, comes the annual holiday spirit, from gift giving to a proper Christmas dinner! Christmas has many Christmassy things associated with it, but when it comes to food, candy canes are the first to come to mind. So how did these peppermint flavored treats come to become a symbol of the holiday spirit?
Candy has been made for almost thousands of years, with evidence from countries such as China, Greece, and Egypt. The first historically dated information regarding the actual candy cane itself was found in Germany, back in the 1670s. Apparently, these sugary snacks were given to the choir kids during long services so that they would focus on eating the candy, or put simply, to keep them quiet. However, the candy cane was first introduced to America by an immigrant named August Imgard, who hung them on his tree as decoration. The actual production of the candy cane was generally handmade up until the 1950’s produced through a hand pulling method.
This process makes shorter, bulkier sweets. Originally, the candies had to be made during the winter, because of colder temperatures, making the cooling of the candies more efficient. First, a pot of sugar is heated up and poured onto a metal sheet and kneaded until the sugar turns white and firmer. The candy is then rolled into a long log shape, where the end is rolled into a thinner point. From there, the thinner logs are cut into strips and curved, creating the candy cane. However, the original candy canes were just white! Incorporating the dye was virtually impossible without making separate batches, meaning that two separate doughs had to be mixed, which was difficult because there was no heavy machinery back in the day.
Nowadays the process is automated, all the candies are made through machinery. Workers will just move the mixed candy dough from machine to machine. The mixture has also changed, going from pure sugar to corn syrup, starch, and flavoring. These factories make billions (yes billions) of candy canes around the world!