THE CANDY CANE
The humble candy cane has been around for nearly four hundred years.
It was during the seventeenth century when European Christians began the use of Christmas trees as part of their Christmas celebrations and they began making special edible decorations for their trees.
The first of these decorations were cookies and sugar-sticks.
It was very soon after the all-white candy canes were given out to children after a nativity service that sweet makers both professional and amateur began making the straight hard white sugar-sticks.
The custom of clergymen handing out candy canes after Christmas services spread throughout Europe and then later to America.
There is an historical reference that a choirmaster at cologne cathedral bent a candy stick into the shape of a shepherds crook as early as 1670.
The canes remained all white and straight but sometimes the confectioners would add sugar-roses to embellish the canes.
It was at the start of the 20th century that the canes acquired their familiar red stripes.
Great religious significance has been bestowed upon the humble candy cane for example the white indicates the purity of our lord, the three stripes represent the holy trinity the red is for the blood of Christ and the crook on its top is for the shepherds.
The hardness of the candy represents the church's foundation on solid rock and the peppermint flavor the use of hyssop, an herb referred to in the Old Testament.
And last but by no means least if you turn the cane upside down you have a letter "j which, yes you've guessed it is for Jesus.
There is no historical evidence to support these claims, quite the contrary, but they are lovely thoughts.
Around the same time as the stripe arrived so did the flavorings, Peppermint and wintergreen and they have remained unchanged ever since.
During the 1950's a catholic priest called Gregory Keller is credited with having invented a machine which automated candy cane production.