And It’s Fascinating History
The Christmas Tradition of using a white stick – Candy Cane – began as a way of decorating a Christmas Tree.
Legend has it that during the 17th century, craftsmen created white sticks of candy in the shape of shepherds’ crooks at the suggestion of the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany.
The treats were given to children to keep them quiet during ceremonies at the living creche, or Nativity scene, and the custom of passing out the crooks at such ceremonies soon spread throughout Europe.
In celebrations of Saint Nicholas Day, candy canes are given to children as they are also said to represent the crosier of the Christian bishop, Saint Nicholas; crosiers themselves allude to the Good Shepherd, a title associated with Jesus.
Some people explain the symbolism of a striped cane as white representing Christ’s purity, red the blood he shed, and the three red stripes the Holy Trinity.
In 1847 German immigrant August Imgard used the candy cane to decorate a Christmas tree in Wooster, Ohio.
Traditional Candy Cane as made by Bob McCormack in Albany, USA, in 1919. suzilove.com
In the 1920s, a cherubic child in a red-and-white hat sold peppermint candy cane to Albany natives in an advertisement for Bob’s candy company. McCormack was the first manufacturer to wrap his candy in cellophane.
Bobs moved to a larger facility in the 1930s so that it could expand its product lines and was one of the few candy companies to remain solvent during the Great Depression.
As the economy improved, people bought more sweet treats, but Bob’s Candy was then leveled by a tornado and, as the company had no tornado insurance, they had to rebuild on their own. By August 1940 the company was back in business and employed McCormack’s three children.
During World War II
(1941-45), when sugar was rationed, coconuts were in short supply, and pecans
were expensive, Bobs took advantage of a plentiful local product—the peanut
—and sold peanut-butter crackers and vacuum-packed peanuts.
During the 1950s, Bobs began making money with such innovations as break-proof packaging, moisture-proof candy wrappers.
In 1952, Bob McCormack’s brother-in-law, Catholic priest Gregory Keller, invented the Keller Machine
which automated the process of twisting soft candy into spiral striping and then cutting them into precise lengths as candy canes.
Keller Machine Invented By Harding Keller to twist and cut Bob McCormack’s Candy Cane. suzilove.com
By the middle of the century, Bob’s company – originally the Famous Candy Company, then the Mills-McCormack Candy Company, and later Bobs Candies, had become one of the world’s leading candy cane producers.
Vintage Christmas Card Of Two Candy Canes
Santa With A Candy Cane Vintage Christmas Card. suzilove.com
To read more about Christmas Customs and Traditions, take a look at my non-fiction book,
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History of Christmases Past by Suzi Love