Before pacifiers, parents would give their children unflavored white sugar sticks to suck on... these were the basis for what is known as the candy cane of today.
At around the 17th century, Christians in Europe began to use Christmas trees as part of their Christmas tradition. They made decorations for these trees - cookies and sugar sticks.
Around 1670 a German choirmaster bent the sugar sticks into canes to represent a shepherd's hook. They were given out to children at the end of Nativity service. These canes were white and sometimes were decorated with sugar roses.
This tradition spread throughout Europe and then America (in 1847). In Ohio, a German immigrant decorated his Christmas tree with candy canes.
After 1900 the first striped candy canes began to appear. They were red & white striped and were even depicted on Christmas cards post 1900. It was at this time that mint flavors were added to candy canes - peppermint & wintergreen.
In 1950 Gregory Keller, a Catholic priest invented a machine to automate candy cane production. His brother-in law invented the process of covering the cane with cellophane and then shipping it in protective packaging. This led to mass production of candy canes all year round.
Legends of the Candy Cane - no proof to any of them...
-The candy cane was a secret symbol for Christianity at times when Christians were living under oppressive circumstances.
- The candy cane is shaped like a "J" for Jesus.
- The red & white stripes represent Christ's blood & purity.