Candy canes are now as much a feature of Christmas as carols, evergreen trees, and mistletoe, but we don’t know much about them. We don’t know who invented them or why, or when and where they first got their red-and-white stripes. What we do have are a lot of guesses, gossip, and rumors.
The earliest proto-candy-cane was most likely a plain white sugar stick of the sort used by frazzled parents of the 1600s as pacifiers for fussy babies. The stick got its cane-like hook, one unsubstantiated story claims, when a 17th-century choirmaster at Germany’s Cologne Cathedral convinced a local candy maker to bend sugar sticks into the shape of shepherd’s crooks, to amuse bored and restless children during Christmas mass. An alternative story holds that the hook was invented simply to make candy sticks easier to hang on Christmas trees.
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