Who Started or Created the Christmas Candy Cane?

Posted by Douglas Gray on 17th Nov 2015

Who started or created the Christmas Candy Cane? It all depends on which of the many stories or folklore you believe. In most accounts the inventor of the candy cane was a choir master in Germany back in the year of 1670. He gave them out to the children in the choir to help keep them quite during a presentation at Christmas time. At that time they were supposedly an all white candy stick with no coloring or curves to them. Other stories say the candy sticks were bent to symbolize the staff a shepherd uses. Another form of the story says the candy cane is really the letter J and represents the first letter in Jesus’s name.

To help make these plain white candy sticks more appealing, red roses were first added. In time, no one knows just when, stripes were added in the early 20th century. Many Christians believe the red stripes included on the candy cane are for the trinity because there are three distinctive ones. Others believe the white is the purity of Jesus and the red is the blood he shed for all of us on the cross.

German Advent

The candy cane was very popular all across Europe but was not brought to America until a German immigrant did so in 1847. He decorated his Christmas Tree with them at his home in Ohio that year. The popularity of them grew fast after that but was restricted due to that they had to be made by hand. 

In the 1920’s a candy maker in Chicago decided to make a machine that would produce candy canes. It is the Bunte brothers that filled the patent for this machine. The only problem was that each candy stick still had to be bent by hand. This procedure caused over 20% breakage of what was produced, but no other way was thought of for almost 40 years.

It was a priest in 1957 that came up with the idea of twisting the candy stick before attempting to bend it. The machine to do the twisting and bending was patented by Gregory Harding Keller who was an ordained Roman Catholic priest.

In the literature that is still available the first mentioning of a candy cane was in the year 1866. At that time it was not associated with Christmas. It is believed that the very first time a candy cane was placed on a Christmas tree was the year of 1882. 

Like many things in the past, the truth of what actually happened has been lost to time. There are records mostly of the claims but to be sure of the candy cane origins you would have to have lived back then.