Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Christmas Candy Cane

An amazing journey 
from Cologne, Germany to Wooster, Ohio

Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market
      I never thought of the candy cane as having a Christian origin–no more than Rudolph or Frosty.  But, the truth may be that it all came about at the Cologne Cathedral as early as 1670.  That's when the choirmaster became frustrated with all
the noise from the children during the annual Christmas pageant.  In order to distract them, he decided to make sugar-stick candy in the shape of a "J" for Jesus, or as some narratives prefer, a shepherd's hook.  Either way, it's a charming sort of urban legend as an origin.  The candies 
White Candies
were placed on a tree in the cathedral that could be easily given out as the chatter became annoying to the parishioners during the service.  Of course, now we would just let the little darlings do what they may.  It was a tradition that caught on quite fast and spread throughout Europe and America. 

       The first candy canes were all white with some varieties being decorated with sugar roses.  As stripes were added, more stories came into being that the red denoted Christ's blood and the presence of three stripes the holy trinity.  We do know that stripes were not added until the early 1900s, as illustrations before that only showed them as all white.  Peppermint and wintergreen flavors were added around the same time and continue to this day as the traditional favorites.

      Another interesting story is that August Imgard, a German immigrant in Wooster, OH, is recognized by the National Confectioners Association as the first person in the U.S. to decorate a Christmas tree with candy canes.  Dragging his cut blue spruce through the town in 1847, he created quite a stir as townspeople saw him place the tree in his home and trim it with paper ornaments and candy canes.  

Thank goodness those European expeditions discovered sugar in the New World!

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