Candy

Watching How Candy Canes Are Made Is as Mesmerizing as It Is Delightful

This How it's Made video from the Science Channel shows the candy-cane making process from start to finish. Buckle up for a Willy Wonka-esque ride, and keep scrolling to read about what's happening.

This Will Get Sticky

The process starts with the candy cane's key ingredients: sugar, water, and corn syrup, which all blend into a big syrupy blob. Separately, starch and peppermint flavoring mix together to help the flavor bind to the starch. This flavored mixture then goes into the syrup blob, which then goes into a machine that repeatedly folds the mixture to distribute that minty flavor evenly.

Here's where it gets good: the automated pullers. Two prongs twist our taffy lump around a metal pole in a strangely satisfying dance. This process aerates the candy, which turns it white. Rollers then mold it into a fat, pliable log, which they decorate with a fat stripe of red-tinged candy dough. Altogether, this minty brick weighs 100 pounds (45 kg)!

The remaining parts of the process convert the mixed, stretched, pulled candy into its final cane form. The log runs through a series of rollers and wheels that stretch it into a long, slithering snake of something that looks not unlike toothpaste. The snake is then twisted, cut into individual pieces, and wrapped in cellophane.

Then comes the final step. Before these stick-straight candy canes cool, a machine bends the tops over to form the canes' signature crooks. It takes about a half hour for a factory to churn out a box of a dozen candy canes. Next stop: your sticky little fingers.

Pick An Origin Story, Any Origin Story

Despite the ubiquity of candy canes around the holiday season, we have no idea where they came from. There's one theory that maintains the red and white colors of the cane represent Jesus' purity and blood, and the shape mimics a "J." There's no evidence to back up this story, so it's probably baloney.

Here's another theory: a choirmaster in Cologne Cathedral in the 17th century shaped these candies to symbolize a shepherd's staff. He would then give the canes to children to keep them quiet during the Christmas Eve Nativity scene reenactment. Well, there's no evidence to support that story either. One thing we do know about candy canes? Watching them being made in a factory is pure delight.

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Learn the origins behind more Christmas traditions in "A Christmas Cornucopia: The Hidden Stories Behind Our Yuletide Traditions" by Mark Forsyth. We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Written by Joanie Faletto December 18, 2017

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