“Candy Maker’s Witness” Origin Story of the Candy Cane-Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
Forwarded emails claim the candy maker from Indiana who invented the candy cane incorporated symbols of the birth, ministry and death of Jesus Christ into it.
This tale about the candy cane’s origin comes from a fictional children’s book, “The Candymaker’s Gift: The Legend of the Candy Cane.”
The book was published in 1996, and its fictional “legend” of the candy cane’s origin story has been mistaken for historical fact ever since. The first forwarded emails about the history of the candy cane popped up in the mid 90s, and they usually resurface each year around Christmas. The email begins:
A candy maker in Indiana wanted to make a candy that would be a witness, so he made the Christmas Candy Cane. He incorporated several symbols for the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus Christ.
He began with a stick of pure white hard candy. White to symbolize the Virgin Birth and the sinless nature of Jesus, and hard to symbolize the Solid Rock, the foundation of the Church, and firmness of the promises of God.
From there, the email goes on to explain that the candy cane is shaped like a “J” for Jesus and that the red stripes were added to resemble the blood shed by Jesus on the cross.
In reality, nobody really knows the exact origin of the candy cane, but there are a number of theories.
Legend has it that the candy cane dates back to the seventeenth century. Sugar was formed into straight, hard candy sticks that were totally white back then. The theory goes that the “candy cane” came to be in 1670 when a choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany apparently bent the candy sticks into “canes” to represent a shepherd’s staff and gave them to children during nativity services.
Skeptics argue, however, that its unlikely that children would have been allowed to eat candy during a 17th century nativity service, and that there’s no actual historical record that that happened back then, according to the website Today I Found Out:
It could just as well have been the case, and seems slightly more plausible, that candy canes got the crook end simply as it made them easier to hang on a tree. (This is also why they are so closely associated with Christmas today). Around the same time candy canes seem to have gotten their crook (and in the same region this seems to have first happened, Germany) many other food items started to be used to decorate Christmas trees (like cookies, fruits, candies, and other such things). About two centuries later, the first known candy cane that popped up in America was also supposedly thanks to a German immigrant, August Imgard, who used the candy cane for this purpose — decorating a Christmas tree in his home in Wooster, Ohio.
But reports that August Imgard decorated America’s first Christmas tree with candy canes has also been called into question. It’s true that Imgard introduced the Christmas tree to America, but accounts of how he decorated trees don’t include candy canes. According to a news report from 1938, Imgard decorated his trees with cookies and nuts:
People came from miles around to see the first tree and the following year there were many trees. Ornaments were made of paper, festooned in long chains by the younger members of the pioneer community. Kuchen baked according to a recipe sent from Bavaria by Imgard’s mother, hung upon the tree and served both as ornaments and tidbits. The cookies were colored with brown sugar and the family spent weeks baking them in quantities for the guests. Gilded nuts were other ornaments and inside the gilded shells were warm messages of greeting
It’s not clear where the candy cane’s red stripes came from, either. Candy canes with red stripes started showing up on Christmas cards around 1900, but it’s not clear who first added them to the all white candy canes.
So, to make a long origin story short, nobody knows exactly where the candy cane (or its red stripes) came from.