Sweet and Twisted: Candy Canes

Big Purple Marble, candy canes

There is a lot of speculation over the origins of the candy cane. Some say a minister curved the top of a peppermint stick to make it look like a shepherd’s staff. Others believe it was a matter of convenience –  J-shaped candy canes could be hung on the Christmas tree both as a decoration and a small gift for visitors.

But truthfully – nobody knows.

It’s candy, not a conspiracy.

Keller Curves

We can say that the candy cane does have a connection to a man of the cloth. In 1919 a candy maker named Bob McCormack began making candy canes. Eventually his company (then called Famous Candy Company, and now known as Bobs Candies) became a leader in candy cane production., and was the first to mass produce and distribute candy canes worldwide.

But McCormack found that his production levels stopped at the ability of his candy makers to bend the canes as they came off the manufacturing belt. A large portion of the candy was broken during the bending process. McCormack’s brother-in-law, a Catholic priest named Gregory Harding Keller, invented a machine that would pull the straight peppermint sticks into the hooked version we know so well.

Today, nearly two billion candy canes are produced worldwide. And they aren’t just peppermint flavored. We gathered some of the most famous candy cane makers, as well as a few stand-alone types of candy canes, just in time for the holiday:

Karma Candy Company

Based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, the Karma Candy Company is the only candy cane factory in Canada.  They pride themselves on their environmental stewardship practices, diverting 85% of their operational waste from landfills.

Archie McPhee

We don’t know if this company makes their candy canes or simply distributes them. But we included them in this list because of their pickle-flavored and bacon-flavored candy canes. Yes. Pickles and bacon.

Bobs Candies

We mentioned Bobs Candies above, but since this company put curved candy canes on the production line with the Keller Machine, we felt it was right to mention it again. In 2005 Farley & Sathers bought the company, then merged with Ferrara Pan in 2012 and became Ferrara Candy Company.

Hammond’s Candies

This Denver-based business is touted as the oldest handmade candy maker in the United States. It’s also probably the largest producer of candy canes in the country.  Approximately seven million candy canes are rolled, cut and shaped every year.

Lofty Pursuits

Over-sized candy canes are made one at a time on a candy cooling table, scissors and a spatula.  The Tallahassee, Florida company offers a variety of flavors, including eggnog! Watch them create candy canes here:


Feature photo by webandi of Pixabay

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