24 Nov
The Story Behind The Candy Cane

As Christmas approaches, one iconic treat takes centre stage in the world of festive sweets each year - the beloved candy cane. With its distinctive red and white stripes and minty flavour, the candy cane has become a symbol of joy and merriment during the winter holidays. So, let's have a closer look at the evolution, history and symbolism, and answer the question, what is the story behind the candy cane?

A mini candy can ein a red cup topped with marshmallows, surrounded by Christmas baubles and lights

History - are candy canes British?

The candy cane is not a British invention but a German one. Its origins can be traced back to Europe in the 17th century. The exact details are a bit hazy, but one popular legend suggests that the first candy canes were created by German choirmasters, who wanted to keep children quiet during long nativity services. 

To accomplish this, they asked local candy makers to create sugar sticks that could be handed out to the children.

Candy cane shape

The iconic cane shape is often attributed to the German choirmasters of the 17th century, who supposedly shaped the candy to resemble a shepherd's staff, connecting the treat to the Christmas story. However, there are some who believe that the J shape of the candy cane stands for Jesus, making it a fitting treat for the Christmas season.

Evolution of the candy cane

Originally, candy canes were purely white and made of sugar. It wasn't until the 20th century that the iconic red stripes were added. The peppermint flavour, now synonymous with candy canes, also became a popular choice over time. Today, candy canes come in various flavours and colours, catering to a wide range of tastes and preferences.

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Young girl dressed in Christmas attire holding a bunch of striped candy canes

Symbolism and tradition

The candy cane has taken on various symbolic meanings over the years. The use of red and white is said to symbolise the purity and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. For many, the white of the colour represents the purity of Jesus Christ, while the red stripes symbolise his bloodshed for humanity. 

Some candy canes are red, white and green, which are seen as the traditional colours of Christmas. The green represents the evergreen tree, and, of course, matches the colour of a Christmas tree.

The traditional sweet treat's versatility and association with the holiday season make it a cherished part of Christmas traditions around the world.

Candy cane decorations

Miniature versions of candy canes have become a staple decoration on Christmas trees and are often used in holiday crafts and baking. They are also popular as stocking stuffers and as part of festive gift baskets. 

It's not just the edible version that is popular during the festive season. Candy canes often feature as props in Christmas theatre productions such as pantomimes, and are often seen in festive movies.

Candy cane art

They are now also commonly used in background patterns and clip art, which are available to download from online stock image sites. Pixabay has a large collection of free candy cane photos and artwork that are royalty free.

In more recent times, some people have used LED lights shaped like candy canes, to light-up a pathway leading to their houses, or to create a festive scene.

Beyond Christmas

While candy canes are undeniably linked to Christmas, their popularity has transcended the holiday season. They are now a common sight throughout the winter months, adorning everything from hot cocoa to gingerbread houses. 

Some creative individuals even find ways to incorporate them into year-round treats, showcasing the candy cane's enduring appeal. 

Red an white striped mug filled with striped candy canes of the same colour, with Christmas tree in background

Best places to buy candy canes

Natural candy canes can be bought from the Original Candy Co., and come in cola, peppermint, strawberry, sour cherry and tutti frutti flavours.

One of the most popular and best-rated products online is this box of 12 peppermint flavour candy canes by Bonds of London in the traditional red, white and green colours.


The candy cane, with its rich history and symbolic significance, has become a beloved part of holiday celebrations. Its sweet and minty flavour, coupled with its festive appearance, makes it a favourite among people of all ages. As you unwrap and enjoy a candy cane this holiday season, take a moment to appreciate the centuries-old tradition and the joy it brings to the season of giving and sharing.

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