During the 17th century, craftsmen created white sticks
of candy in the shape of shephreds'
crooks at the suggestion of the choirmaster at the
Cologne Cathedral in Germany. The candy treats were
given to children to keep them quiet during ceremonies
at the living creche, or Nativity scene, and the custom
of passing out the candy crooks at such ceremonies soon
spread throughout Europe.
According to the National Confectioner's Association, in
1847 German immigrant August Imgard used the candy cane
to decorate a Christmas tree in Wooster, Ohio. More than
50 years later, Bob McCormack of Albany, Georgia
supposedly made candy canes as treats for family,
friends and local shopkeepers. McCormack's
brother-in-law, Catholic priest Gregory Keller, invented
a machine in the 1950s that automated the production of
candy canes, thus eliminating the usual laborious
process of creating the treats and the popularity of the
candy cane grew.
More recent explanations of the candy cane's symbolism
hold that the color white represents Christ's purity,
the red the blood he shed, and the presence of three red
stripes the Holy Trinity. While factual evidence for
these notions does not exist, they have become
increasingly common and at times are even represented as
fact. Regardless, the candy cane remains a favorite
holiday treat and decoration.