A candy cane is a cane-shaped hard candy stick associated with Christmas. It is traditionally white with red stripes and flavored with peppermint; but is also made in a variety of other flavors and colors.
Snopes.com – a web site that researches urban legends, Internet rumors, e-mail forwards, and other stories of unknown or questionable origin – deems the account false, citing its "significant historical problems" and the inability to provide conclusive evidence that verifies the account.
A recipe for straight peppermint candy sticks, white with colored stripes, was published in 1844. The candy cane has been mentioned in literature since 1866, was first mentioned in association with Christmas in 1874, and as early as 1882 was hung on Christmas trees. Chicago confectioners the Bunte Brothers filed the earliest patents for candy cane making machines in the early 1920s.
^ abcR. O. Parker (19 October 2001). Introduction to Food Science. Delmar. Retrieved 17 December 2011. "In 1670, the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral gave sugar sticks to his young singers to keep them quiet during the long Living Creche ceremony. In honor of the occasion, he had the candies bent into the shepherds crooks. In 1847, a German-Swedish immigrant named August Imgard of Wooster, Ohio, decorated a small pine tree with paper ornaments and candy canes."
^ abcdHelen Haidle (2002). Christmas Legends to Remember. David C. Cook. Retrieved 17 December 2011. "Around 1670, a choirmaster of a cathedral in Cologne, Germany, handed out sugar sticks to his young singers. At Christmas, in honor of the birth of Jesus, the choirmaster bent the sugar sticks at one end, forming the shape of a shepherd's crook. These white candy canes helped keep the children quiet during the long Christmas Eve Nativity service. From Germany, the use of candy shepherds' staffs spread across Europe, where plays of the Christmas Nativity were accompanied by gifts of the sweet "shepherds' crooks.""
^ abcAce Collins (20 April 2010). Great Traditions of Christmas. Zondervan. Retrieved 17 December 2011. "Church history records that in 1670 the choirmaster at Germany's Cologne Cathedral was faced with a problem that still challenges parents, teachers, and choir directors today. In ancient Cologne, as well as in thousands of churches today, the children in the choir often grew restless and noisy during the long services. He sought out a local candy maker, and after looking over the treats in his shop, the music leader paused in front of some white sweet sticks. Yet the choirmaster wondered if the priests and parents would allow him to give the children in his choir candy to eat during a church service. The choirmaster asked the candy maker if he could bend the sticks and make a crook at the top of each one. The candy would not be just a treat; it would be a teaching tool. The choirmaster decided that the candy's pure white color would represent the purity of Christ. The crook would serve as a way for the children to remember the story of the shepherds who came to visit the baby Jesus. The shepherds carried staffs or canes, and with the hook at the top of the stick, the candy now looked like a cane."
^ abIt's Christmas Season: My, How Sweet It Is!. The Milwaukee Journal. 13 December 1968. Retrieved 20 December 2011. "In 1670, a choirmaster at Germany's Cologne cathedral bent the ends of some sugar sticks to represent shepherds' crooks, and distributed them to youngsters. The practice spread."