The candy cane first originated in Germany around 250 years ago. As the story goes, in 1670 a choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral was concerned that his children would not be able to sit quietly throughout an entire Christmas nativity service. He decided that food would be the best solution.
To remind them of Christmas, the choirmaster made the candies in the shape of a shepherd’s crook, because baby Jesus was visited by shepherds on the very first Christmas. Nowadays, experts argue that the story has no evidence and is completely untrue. However, this is still the most popular tale.
The parent to candy canes are sugar sticks, which are basically the same as a candy cane except there is no curve and the candy is pure white. Hundreds of years later, around 1900, the candies were given a peppermint flavor and red stripes were added.
The National Confectioners Association reports that candy canes are the best selling non-chocolate candy during the month of December. 1.76 billion candy canes are produced in the United States annually and 90% of candy canes are sold between the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas. The week that candy canes are flying of the shelves the most is the second week of December, probably because that is the week that most people decorate their trees.
Christians have added new meanings to the candy cane as well. The white is said to represent the purity of Jesus Christ, and the red is said to represent His blood shed on the cross. The flavor of the peppermint may represent the hyssop plant used for purifying the Bible. The shape of the candy cane is also a “J” for Jesus. Another symbol seen through the candy cane is that when it is broken, we are reminded that Jesus’s body was broken for us.