Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Leona from Bigfork, MT. Leona Wonders, “How did candy canes get like a cane?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Leona!
In the mid-1600s, confectioners (candy makers) made candy sticks by hand. The process took a lot of time and strength. The candy ingredients had to be mixed, heated, and then pulled, cut, and twisted.
Because of the shepherds in the Nativity story, the choirmaster bent the candy sticks into canes to represent the shepherd's crook. The cane-shaped candy sticks became a tradition at the church. Their popularity eventually spread to other areas throughout Europe.
Candy canes soon became associated with the Christmas holiday. Europeans used candy canes to decorate their Yule trees (trees decorated for the Yule holiday that would eventually become Christmas). Their hook shape made them easy to hang on the branches of a Yule tree.
Candy canes would not earn their characteristic stripes until around 1900. No one knows who first gave candy canes those well-known, bright-red stripes twisting around the candy stick like the stripes of a barber's pole.
Other manufacturers started to mass-produce candy canes in the 1950s after Gregory Keller invented a candy cane machine. Today, traditional red and white candy canes with a minty flavor are still very popular.