Well, I hope everyone out there in Patchland had a great Thanksgiving.
I had so much fun writing those Turkey columns that I decided to STICK with a holiday theme. Peppermint stick that is, commonly known as the candy cane.
Originally the candy cane we know and love was just a plain old stick of twisted sugar strands. It was straight, white and with out peppermint flavor. I couldn't really track down its origins but in the 1600's it was all the rage throughout Europe. Local confectioners produced them in small batches as they were labor intensive and created similarly to taffy. The melted easily and were very brittle.
In 1670 a choir master from Cologne Germany asked the local candy maker if he could add a hook, so the confection would resemble a shepherd's staff, in honor of our Lord the Shepherd, Jesus Christ.
He hung his candy canes on the Yule tree and doled them out to his choir members and their children. In 1847 a German immigrant named August Imgard brought the tradition to America and soon candy canes donned trees across the states.
In 1859, peppermint flavor and the red stripe was added by the larger candy companies. A confectioner name Bob McCormick from Albany Georgia began marketing the candy cane as a Christmas treat for the masses. In fact it took about thirty years but his brother-in-law Greg Keller, a Catholic priest, perfected his invention to machine the sugary treats and package them in cellophane. The rest was history, Bob's Candy Inc. went on to become the largest producer of candy in the world.
Last year 1.76 billion candy canes were sold across the globe. According to Guinness the largest one stands at 36 feet 7 inches tall. That's a lot of cavities!
So this Dec. 26 (National Candy Cane Day) be sure to STICK with a candy that has lasted for centuries and brought smiles to children and dentists around the world.