History of Candy Canes

History of Candy Canes: Why Do They Look Like That?

Candy canes are a classic Christmas treat. Just how classic? Like 17th century classic. They were invented in 1670 but didn’t get stripey until 1844. Here is a brief history of candy canes and 3 facts you probably didn’t know about the famous Christmas candy!

1. Candy Canes were created in Cologne, Germany in 1670

The legend goes that in order to keep children quiet during the Living Crechesthe event at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany, the church choirmaster asked a local candymaker to create a sugar stick. Basically, it could double as a pacifier to keep the rowdy kids quiet! They would suck on them to keep it down during the Christmas ceremonies.

2. They were made to resemble shepherd’s hooks

The choirmaster was instructed to make the first candy canes look like the crooked-neck of a shepherd’s hook. This would remind the children about the shepherds that attended Jesus’s birth story. Other churches quickly adopted it and the tradition spread all across Europe. That is why candy canes are so tied to Christmas traditions around the world today – it’s a reminder of the famous Nativity scene!

History of Candy Canes
Ever wonder why candy canes were hooked like that?

3. They were all white until 1844!

Candy canes were entirely white until around the late 1800s. At that time, a man named Bob McCormack (of McCormack’s Candies) allegedly created the first red-striped candy cane that we know of today.  The now-famous red-striped candy cane appeared in 1844.

Many people believe the colors have a religious meaning too.  The red stripes allegedly represent the blood of Christ and the white stripes represent the purity of Jesus. Though Snopes has found that to be a myth.

Either way, the candy cane making process was manual and laborious. To help – in the 1950s – Bob McCormack’s brother-in-law (Gregory Keller) invented an automated candy cane making machine. Though the Bunte Brothers are credited with the first patent for the machine, their popularity didn’t quite explode until Bob’s Candies (Geroge’s company) began to mass-produce and distribute the candy canes worldwide on their own.

With Bob’s Candies and their innovation, candy canes exploded in popularity and become the holiday tradition that we know and love today. Because what is the Christmas season without candy canes!