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December 21-27, 2005

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5 Things to Love

5 Things About Candy Canes


By Stett Holbrook

Candy canes are the signature candy of Christmas. Here are five things you probably didn't know about the pepperminty treats. The list comes from the Detroit Free Press.

Shhhh!
Even 17th-century kids couldn't resist the urge to chatter during church. Legend has it that the candy cane originated in the late 1600s, invented by the choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral in Germany, who gave kids sugar sticks to keep them mum during the long Christmas church service. He bent the sticks so they resembled shepherds' crooks.

Lick by Lick
Candy canes made their first appearance in a candy shop in Albany, Ga., when Bob McCormack started making batches of them by hand in the 1920s. His brother-in-law invented a candy cane machine in the 1950s. Now, about 1.8 billion candy canes are made each year. The ingredients are simple: corn syrup, sugar, peppermint flavoring and starch.

Guilt-Free
Calorie-free versions include a candy cane amaryllis from Harry and David ($44.95, www.harryanddavid.com) and a nylon candy cane banner ($12.50 at www.amazon.com). Or, if you're feeling flashy and money's not an issue, decorate your yard with a 102-inch holographic candy cane arch twinkling with 600 light bulbs ($187.50 at www.mychristmasitems.com).

Made in Michigan
In 2001, the Guinness Book of World Records bestowed the record for the longest handmade candy cane to Paul Ghinelli, who created a 58-foot, 2 1/4-inch cane. He broke his own 1998 record (16 feet) and 2000 record (36 feet).

Crunch Time
Chew on these stats from the National Confectioners Association at www.candyusa.org:
54 percent of kids ages 6 to 11 say they eat a candy cane by sucking on it.
24 percent bite or crunch.
19 percent lick.
2 percent don't know how they eat candy canes.
1 percent said they eat them "another" way.
31 percent of boys crunch their candy canes,
but only 17 percent of girls do so.



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