Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Let's Eat The Decorations...!!
Of all the different things that are traditional about this time of the year, perhaps nothing says "Christmas" more than the candy cane!
While there are many versions of the origins of this humble candy, I think that we all agree that at one time or another we have had the sweet pleasure of munching on a candy cane! I can't even imagine NOT having candy canes around the house or hanging on the tree during the Christmas holidays!
Although the striped candy is traditional at Christmas, they are available year 'round. In my opinion...that is a good thing!
OK, history time again! Here is a little rundown on the origin of the candy canes. I hope you find it interesting...
Candy canes were probably first introduced over 350 years ago. Professional candy makers had learned that sugar could be stretched and rolled into various shapes. This prompted them to produce straight, white sugar sticks that were easy to eat. During the 1600s, people began to decorate their homes at Christmas time. This typically involved a tree and various sweets like cookies, cakes, and stick candy. The historical evidence indicates that candy canes were first given the cane shape in 1670 by a German choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral. He supposedly gave the children who sang in his choir sugar sticks that were bent like a shepherd's staff to keep them quiet during long services. The tradition of handing out these candies during Christmas services spread throughout Europe.
The candy cane was first introduced to America in 1847 by a German-Swedish immigrant named August Imgard. He decorated a Christmas tree with candy canes in his Wooster, Ohio home. Evidently his creation had inspired others and a tradition was born.
While people had occasionally enhanced the appearance of the white candy cane with colored sugar prints, it was not until the early nineteenth century that candy canes got their stripes. It is not known exactly who gave candy canes this characteristic, but they have been produced that way ever since. This is also about the time when the flavors of peppermint and wintergreen were added to make the product known today.
During the early part of the century, candy canes were made by hand. This process was extremely laborious. Candy canes were sold almost exclusively at a local level. In the 1950s a Catholic priest named Gregory Keller invented a machine that could make candy canes automatically. This sparked the mass production of the candy. Today, over 1.7 billion candy canes are sold each year.
You know, this would make a good at-home history lesson for the kids! Imagine...having a class with edible homework! No more having to blame the dog...the kids will be more than happy to accept the blame for this one!
Now, my friends, let's get some coffee and sit at the kitchen table...while we figure out another way to gain a few pounds this holiday season!