How Are Candy Canes Made

Candy canes. We’ve all eaten them at one point or another, and literally everyone has an opinion on them. People either love or hate candy canes—there are very few people who feel “meh” about them. But whether you love them, hate them, or couldn’t care less about them, I’m sure you’ve at some point wondered: How are candy canes made?

Are these whimsical mini walking sticks handmade by people who are just naturally immune to sugar burns? Is it North Pole magic? Today we are going to find the heck out, just because we cane

First thing’s first: Do I like candy canes?

Yes, I do. I think they are a wonderful and adorable way to consume sugar. I also love throwing a candy cane into piping-hot hot chocolate and creating my own peppermint mocha bev. Mmm mmmm mmm. Alright. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Who invented candy canes?

According to, legend has it that candy canes were created by a German choir director in the 1600s who was trying to get the younger boys in the choir to be quiet. Sticks of sugar to the rescue. Then, either because the choir event was a live nativity scene with shepherds or because parents complained that sweets weren’t appropriate at a religious proceeding, the choir director “added a hook, making the stick resemble a [shepherd’s] staff,” according to candy historian Susan Benjamin. Benjamin also supposes it’s just as likely that the hook was for tree-decorating purposes, which is how they ultimately found popularity.

When candy canes hit the U.S. in the 1800s, they were all white, with none of the red stripes we know and love today. In fact, they didn’t earn their stripes until they beat Tony the Tiger 10-0 in a game of pick-up basketball in 1997. Just kidding. They got their stripes and peppermint flavor in the early 1900s, when mass production and automation became more ubiquitous.

From which end do you start eating a candy cane?

Hi, me again. I have to know: What end do you start your candy canes from. Do you start with the hook or the staff? (Do comment below). I start from the straight end, along with 72% of people, while 28% of people start from the curved end. As a kid I started from the curved end, but somewhere along the way, I realized how much more difficult that made things. Anyhoo, back to the question of the day…

How are candy canes made?

The short answer? You take hot red and white sugar that has been flavored with peppermint, roll it and stretch it real thin, cut it into lil rods, and then bend those rods. How do I know this? Because I frequently find myself on candy-making TikTok looking at endless videos of candy cane production. But most candy canes aren’t made by hand, they are made in giant factories like this one, where the same process I mentioned before is roughly followed, but with some starch added along with the flavoring and a good bit more robotic pizzazz. Also, factory-made candy canes tend to be a lot thinner than handmade ones. Fun fact: In larger-scale production, the candy canes aren’t bent until after they’re wrapped in plastic. Who knew?

Would I ever try making candy canes at home?

No. Absolutely not. 

Will I be exclusively dreaming about satisfying candy cane-making videos all the way until the end of December?


About the Author

Jessica Block

Jessica Block is a freelance contributor to Sporked, a comedian, a baker, a food writer, and a firm believer that Trader Joe's may just be the happiest place on earth. She loves spicy snacks, Oreos, baking bread, teeny tiny avocados, and trying new foods whenever she can. Also, if you give her a bag of Takis she will be your best friend.

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