What’s the proper way to eat a candy cane?

Dec. 26 is National Candy Cane Day

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — On National Candy Cane Day 2021, we want to know: Where do you start, the straight side or the curved end?

A survey by the National Confectioners Association found that 58% of U.S. consumers eat the straight end first, while 30% start with the curved side.

As for the remaining 12%, the association reported in December 2019 that those people eat candy canes by first breaking them into pieces.

Candy canes are a holiday staple, with nearly 2 billion being sold in the four weeks before each Christmas and Hanukkah. People look to them and their other favorite treats to offer a sense of nostalgia and familiarity during the holidays, industry analysts say.

The NCA says candy canes have been a special part of our Christmas celebrations for 350 years.

“Legend has it that in 1670, the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany gave his young singers sugar sticks to keep them quiet during the long Living Creche ceremony. In honor of the shepherds featured in the story, he bent the candies into small shepherds’ crooks. The German tradition was continued in the United States by a German-Swedish immigrant named August Imgard, who celebrated Christmas in Wooster, Ohio, by decorating a small blue spruce with paper ornaments and candy canes in 1847. The tradition began to spread, and around the turn of the century, red and white stripes and peppermint flavors became the norm.

“In the 1920s, a man named Bob McCormack began making candy canes as special Christmas treats for his children, friends and local shopkeepers in Albany, Georgia. Bob’s Candies, as his business came to be known, distributed locally. But pulling, twisting, cutting and bending the candy canes by hand was a laborious process, so in the 1950s, Bob’s brother-in-law, Gregory Keller, a Catholic priest, invented a machine to automate candy cane production. Packaging innovations by the future generations of McCormacks made it possible to transport the delicate canes to communities across the country, and Bob McCormack’s candy canes became a nationwide holiday treat.”

—  National Confectioners Association

The traditional red and white candy cane provides a tasty treat and can double as a Christmas tree ornament or part of a holiday decoration.

But does it have to be peppermint? Apparently not.

By far, peppermint remains the go-to flavor for candy canes.

But store shelves now offer so much more.

Ferrara Candy, which sold nearly 7,000 tons of candy canes in 2020, added Brach’s brand Funfetti and wintergreen candy canes for 2021.

A few years ago, Spangler introduced Oreo candy canes. The company makes more than 3 million candy canes every day year round.

Candy fans also can have candy canes and their favorite candies at the same time, including Dum Dums, Jelly Belly, Smarties, Hot Tamales, Airheads, Hawaiian Punch, Lifesavers, Starburst, Skittles, Fun Dip, Now & Later, Bobs Peppermint, Cherry Rainbow, SweeTarts, Alexander the Grape, Johnny Apple Treats and Nerds, to name a few.

Lovers of cookies and cereals can find candy canes flavored like Froot Loops, Kool-Aid and A&W Root Beer. And there are strawberry- and watermelon-flavored candy canes not to mention Hammond’s Candies’ cotton candy, fruit punch and apple pie flavors.

National Day Calendar shared these fun facts about candy canes:

▬ The average candy cane is 5 inches tall.

▬ Alain Roby, Geneva pastry chef, holds the Guinness World Record for the longest candy cane, measuring 51 feet long.

▬ While most candy canes are not sugar- or calorie-free, all have no fat or cholesterol.

▬ Striped red and white candy canes were first introduced in 1900.

▬ The first machine to make candy canes was invented in 1921 by Brasher O. Westerfield. Until then, they were made by hand.

▬ Bob McCormack and his brother-in-law and priest Gregory Keller brought the candy cane to the masses. What started out as candymaking for McCormack’s friends and family turned into mass production when Keller invented the machine that enabled Bob’s Candies to go big time.

Copyright 2021 KSLA. All rights reserved.

Curtis Heyen

Curtis Heyen

KSLA News 12 Digital Content Producer Curtis Heyen is an award-winning journalist, reporter, and editor with deep roots in the ArkLaTex.