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Ineffective as ambulatory aids, but delicious to the mouth, Candy Canes are certainly the most flibbertygibbetery Winter candy. Whether you hang them on your tree or cram them down your throat, there’s a little history you ought to know.

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It’s a well established rumor that Candy “Canes” were invented by a German Choirmaster in the city of Cologne in 1670. His restive younger singers, no doubt harangued by dreams of Sugar-Plums and Weihnachts-Wurst so prevalent amongst the teutonic youth of the day, had trouble sitting still through long rehearsals, so the ingenious Choirmaster bent a few sticks of boiled sugar he had lying around into delicious symbols of the Lord’s piety with the aim of keeping his young charges mouths shut, their throats moist and their minds on shepherdry.

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Records indicate that these canes (and boiled sugar sticks in general) became popular in the 17th Century, but the peppermint and stripes weren’t added until the early 20th Century. Depending on who you talk to, the stripes are either supposed to represent the blood of the scourged of Christ, or recall a barber’s pole– maybe both. Whatever the case may be, the real thing that matters with candy is the taste.

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For this review, I’ve chosen Spangler Canes. Now, you may think that any brand of candy cane will do. Not so. The best candy canes (Spangler among them) are made with real peppermint oil (though admittedly, in a pinch, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference), since it provides a cleaner and more intense flavor. A good, fresh Candy Cane will be smooth, non-brittle and difficult to bite into without first being worried into a point for a good few minutes. Spangler provide a nice balance of sweetness and mint flavor, and don’t leave behind as thick a film, even after a few, where many lesser canes might.

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Just remember, if you bludgeon yourself in your Christmas revelry this season, don’t expect to rely on these so called “canes” for any support, in fact, even trying to walk with one without prior ailment could prove injurious. You’ve been warned.

Happy Holidays from Candy.com!

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