The Origins of the Candy Cane
We’ve probably all heard the story of the German choirmaster who created white, sugary shepherd’s hooks to keep the children quiet during the services. But, there are almost as many candy cane creation stories as there are varieties of candy canes!
What’s certain is that these popular Christmas treats were originally all white. Many have attached a religious connection to them, saying that the white candy cane represented the sinlessness of the life of Jesus. As for the shape, many also claim that it’s meant to look like a shepherd’s hook, to remind children of the shepherds who visited the baby Jesus.
Although they were probably created in 1670 in Germany, it wasn’t until 1844 that a recipe for straight candy sticks was published. And in the mid 1800s, candy canes were hung on Christmas trees for the first time. Back in the day, it was common to hang sweets and baked goods from the festive tree, so the candy canes were a perfect addition!
Christmas cards from before and after the 1900s reveal that it wasn’t until the turn of the century that candy canes earned their stripes. There’s lots of lore around the stripes as well, with some saying the thickest stripe represents Jesus, while the three smaller stripes represent the Holy Trinity.
Around the turn of the century, peppermint and wintergreen flavors were also added to the sweets, whose flavors could be distinguished by either a red or green stripe, for peppermint or wintergreen, respectively.
In the 1950s, a Catholic priest by the name of Gregory Keller invented an automated candy cane machine, to twist the candies into their popular shape. And since then, there’s been no looking back.
Today, candy canes are arguably the most popular holiday candy with the longest-standing history. And they’re not just peppermint and wintergreen anymore. Check out all of the canes we have to offer. You’re sure to find something for every candy-cane-craving sweet tooth.
Ask anyone on the street if they’ve ever heard of Brach’s candy and they’ll probably think of those infamous bulk bins in the grocery store. Or, they may sing you a little jingle, “Stop where you are, buy a Brach’s candy bar.” But do you know how it all began?
As it turns out, Brach’s is almost 110 years old, as the first store was opened all the way back in 1904. Brach’s was created by a German immigrant by the name of Emil J. Brach. And, believe it or not, the store in 1904 was his second attempt at starting a candy business. His first, in the late 1800s, was a complete failure.
The first Brach products were caramels, made in the back of the store and displayed at the front as a way to lure in customers. And lure them in it did! Between 1906 and 1913, the Chicago-based company had to move locations three times to keep up with expansion due to high demand.
It’s no surprise that they were so popular, too! Brach’s has always prided itself on quality, being the first candy company to institute what we might call quality control on candies coming off the line.
Back in the day, Brach shipped his candies by horse, car, mail, and train. So you could have your candies, no matter how near or far you were to the store. That dedication to customer satisfaction is one of the main reasons Brach’s has stayed in business for so long.
The Brachs kept the business in the family for a long time, too, only selling to a non-family buyer in 1966. But the change in ownership didn’t change anything about the taste! Those Chocolate Stars are still sure to be as good as you remember.
Today, Brach’s abandoned factory has some film credit fame to its name, as it became Gotham Hospital in the 2008 movie, The Dark Knight. Cool, right? And since you can’t make delicious confections in a decaying building, you can rest assured knowing that your Brach’s candies are made safely in Texas by company Farley’s & Sathers.
Brach’s is truly a company for the ages. What started as a niche has exploded into a huge candy empire, reaching sweet tooths, everywhere.
Cordialed cherries have always been a huge hit around the holidays. They’re sweet and perfectly festive- a treat normally reserved for this time of year. But did you realize just how old the method of cordialing is? If not, let’s just say that it’s a little older than you may be expecting.
Cordials for the Heart
In fact, cordials started being made hundreds of years ago, during the Renaissance. They were originally made for medicinal purposes, as the strong flavor was thought to promote health. The meaning of the word itself betrays earlier thoughts that cordials were good for the heart, as “cor” means heart in Latin.
First produced in Italy, this heart-helping drink slowly spread its influence throughout all of Europe. And, over time, this purely medicinal beverage became something of a social-statement, as cordials evolved into what we know today as liquors.
Cordials and Candy
Liquors are often the perfect remedy to a cold winters night, so it’s no surprise that home cooks soon began soaking their fruits in the stuff! What could be more delicious and practical than liquor that you can both drink and make candy with? Our forefathers really knew what they were doing.
Generations of cordial recipes have been passed down over the years, and many families still make their own, today. Cherries tend to be the most popular cordialed fruit, as the cherry lends itself well to soaking and then being smothered in chocolate. But cordialing takes time- months in fact, to wait for the fruit to sufficiently imbibe itself with the delicious liquor it’s soaking in. And who wants to wait for that? So if waiting is not quite your thing, check out Brach’s Villa Cherries. They might be just what you need to remind yourself of holidays of old.
This year, treat yourself and your loved ones to a taste that has almost outlasted the test of time. Be sure to add cordialed cherries to your shopping list.
A Peach Blossom A Day
Peach Blossoms are a candy that tastes as sweet as it sounds. A truly American treat, they also happen to be made by an American company with a history that stretches far longer than you may have expected.
It all started back in 1847. It was in this fateful year that a man by the name of Oliver Chase invented the lozenge cutter. Chase was a pharmacist, so he wasn’t necessarily in the candy-making business. But, as it turns out, the creation of this machine, which allowed long ropes of sugar to be cut into manageable pieces, was just what the confectionary doctor had ordered.
In fact, the machine was first used to slice up what we know today as NECCO Wafers. Originally used as cough drops, or a way to soothe the stomach, these wafers were yet to come into their candy prime. Alas, who would have known that a simple little machine, similar to a pasta maker, would have such an impact on U.S. candy production?
Peach Blossoms Blossom
In 1901, Chase & Company, Hayward & Company, and Wright & Moody – three pre-Civil-War-era candy companies – joined forces to become NECCO: the New England Confectionary Company that we know and love today.
Four years later, in 1905, NECCO introduced Peach Blossoms. And the smooth peanut butter, wrapped in a crunchy candy coating has been delighting sweet tooths ever since.
But, don’t expect Peach Blossoms to actually taste like peaches. The candy is more reminiscent of the flower than the fruit, as there’s no peach flavoring inside. Somehow, the misleading name has never been a turnoff, as generations have been enjoying the candy ever since.
Today, Peach Blossoms are manufactured in Revere, Massachusetts. The factory still uses many machines that have been around since before World War II and relies on real live workers to add food coloring and whisk mixtures – no fully automated candy production, here! So the Peach Blossoms you buy today are made with the same personal touch that has been sweetening every batch for decades.
Few things are sweeter at Christmas time than a handful of candy. Everyone has a favorite holiday treat that they look forward to all year round. There’s just something especially nice about savoring a candy that only comes by for special occasions. And while we can’t imagine ringing in the Yule-tide feelings without a sugary treat or two, it wasn’t always this way.
Old Fashioned Sweetness
While people have been enjoying sweets for centuries, the first mention of Christmas candy came in the form of candy canes. In 1672, the choirmaster of the Cologne Cathedral created white, sugary sticks to keep the children quiet in his church. These boring white staffs morphed over the years into the hooked, red and white striped favorites we know today – and they still have the remarkable ability to hush any whiny mouth.
Over the years, the tradition of cut rock candy has remained a staple of Christmas festivities. Decades of grandmothers have known the secrets behind whipping up the perfect batch of sugary confections: ribbons, bows, and disks, all dyed and pulled to perfection. It’s a tough job, but somebody had to do it!
Luckily, with our Old Fashioned Christmas Candy Mix, you never have to worry if your sugar has reached the proper boiling point. You can have all your favorite Christmas candies, with none of the sugar-burning disasters.
Old Fashioned, Not Outdated
And speaking of great candies, if you enjoy nostalgic confections, you should take a look at our Americana Penny Candy Mix. Chock-full of sweets you may remember as a kid, this is one mix that shouldn’t be missed.
Around the holidays, we celebrate the things we hold most dear: family, friends, and the candies we grew up loving as children. With our Old Fashioned Christmas Mix, you can help make Christmas traditions come true.
Announcing a new Christmas Candy favorite!
Most of our top-10 bestselling candies year after year are Brach’s candies like Butterscotch Disks, Villa Cherries, and Ice Blue Mint Coolers. But every year, there’s one candy mix — only sold at CandyFavorites.com — that manages to rank among those established favorites. Penny Candy Americana Mix delivers joy to everyone who encounters it by bringing back the tastes of childhood for all ages.
What better time for the wonderful magic of rediscovery than Christmas morning?
This year, we’re excited to introduce Christmas Candy Americana Mix!
A Mixed History
The history of Christmas candy in America is one that can bring back fond memories for almost anyone, as everyone seems to have their own personal Christmas candy history and experiences. Our love of Christmas candy in America stretches back many generations, linking families and taste buds for over a century.
Did you know that the first mention of candy canes in America was in 1847? A German immigrant by the name of August Imgard decorated his Christmas tree with them in that year, and they’ve been a perennial Christmas favorite in the U.S., ever since.
In fact, Americans are pretty traditional when it comes to their candy favorites. Our Americana Penny Candy Mix pays tribute to some of the oldest and most revered candies in America.
Would you believe that most of the top-selling candies in America today were first introduced before World War II? It’s true, and for good reason. If you have a good thing, why bother changing it? And, in the early part of the 20th century, America was brimming with delicious, new chocolates and candies.
Twizzlers and Hershey Bars have been in production since 1845 and 1900, respectively. These top candies are an ongoing testament that our appreciation of quintessentially Americana candy runs deep.
When it comes to Christmas candy, we Americans are devoted to our time-tested favorites. Everyone seems to love biting into a candy that reminds them of the magic of Christmases in their childhood. There’s something really sweet about revisiting those memories of a time when Spearmint Leaves cost a penny and Hershey bars went for only a nickel.
Our brand new Christmas Candy Americana Mix evokes all of the nostalgic thoughts of yesteryear, with a little bit of everything inside. So when you bite into one of these candies, you know you’re tasting some of the best that American Christmas candy has to offer.
The Early Days of a Retro Candy Bar
The history of the Abba-Zaba bar goes way back, all the way to 1922, to be exact. It was a different time, then. The first radio had just arrived at the White House, Egypt received independence from Great Britain, and a little candy company called Colby and McDermott was manufacturing a new kind of candy bar in Los Angeles, California.
What made this candy so special, you might ask? Well, it consisted of a white taffy exterior with a creamy peanut butter center. Known as the Abba-Zaba bar, this stick-to-your-teeth confection became a huge hit out west, where they still carry the biggest clout, today.
In The Spotlight
Anyone who loves the Abba-Zaba bar will recognize that black and yellow Taxi-cab-esque exterior. But are you familiar with the original wrapper scandal? Early Abba-Zaba wrappers from Colby & McDermott depict what appear to be African tribesmen in a jungle, sitting beside a taffy tree. And while this racially taboo packaging would never fly today, it didn’t do the brand any damage when the candy first came out.
The Abba-Zaba bar has also made numerous TV and movie appearances in its sweet history, racking up quite a few screen creds- the most famous of which may be from its mention in the movie Half Baked.
Over the years, manufacturing of the candy passed first to Cardinet Candy and then to Annabelle Candy Company in 1978. But despite frequent company changes, the original Abba-Zaba taste has remained the same.
Today, Annabelle Candy Company manufactures the Abba-Zaba bar in Hayward, California. The candy is Kosher pareve and is even available in new flavors. You can now get your Abba-Zaba fix with green-apple flavored taffy, or a chocolate, instead of peanut butter, filling.
And once you’ve gotten your hands on one, the choice is yours on how you want to enjoy it. Some say freezing them is the best way. Others say leaving them in a hot car does the trick. Either way, you’re in for a treat.
A Man and His Popcorn
Nothing screams Americana quite like the 7th inning stretch and a box of Cracker Jacks. But would you believe this time-tested snack was created by a German immigrant and debuted not at the ballpark, but at the World’s Fair? The story of this American candy classic is an interesting one, indeed.
Frederick William Rueckheim had been selling popcorn on the streets of Chicago for years, when, in 1893, he came up with a new popcorn creation for the Chicago World’s Fair. When his brother Louis arrived from Germany, they established the F.W. Rueckheim & Bro. company to sell their popcorn together.
What is a Cracker Jack?
In 1896 the name Cracker Jack was officially registered (before then the snack had been called candied popcorn and peanuts) and the familiarly sticky and sweet candy we know today was born.
Back in the day, the term “cracker jack” could refer to anything of high quality, so it’s no wonder the name stuck! The coining of the name, however, was just the first of many big steps for this candy favorite.
Out of Left Field
Henry Gottlieb Eckstein’s invention of the “Eckstein Triple Proof Bag” in 1899 made him the perfect business partner for the Rueckheim brothers. And, in 1902, the company became Rueckheim Bros & Eckstein.
But it would take six more years before Cracker Jacks came into their own. In 1908, Jack Norworth penned the infamous lines of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” that shot Cracker Jacks into the limelight. Since then, no baseball game has been complete without at least one box of the crunchy, sweet treat.
Changes came to the company, fast and furious, as Cracker Jacks grew in popularity. In 1912 Rueckheim Bros & Eckstein began adding tiny prizes to each box of Cracker Jacks. Candy and toys? These guys really knew what would sell. The face of Cracker Jacks got another boost in 1918, when Sailor Jack and his dog Bingo were added to the packaging.
The endearing duo was apparently based on Rueckheim’s grandson and dog. But, I’d say it’s probably not a coincidence that they appeared at the end of the 1st World War. A patriotic move, if I do say so myself.
A Home Run
Today, Cracker Jacks are made by Frito-Lay. They’re still a fan favorite at baseball games, enchanting the young and the young-at-heart as they have for decades. So while the prizes may have changed over the years, you can be sure that the candy inside hasn’t changed a bit.
After over 85 years in the candy business, we finally have over 8,500 wonderful Facebook fans! We need you to help us pass the 10K mark!
This is an exclusive event just for our Facebook Fans, so if you’re not one yet, get in on the action.
The Number of Prizes is Up to You!
We want to get as many fans as possible by midnight on Halloween. As long as we pass 10,000 fans, we’ll give away 10 prizes to new Facebook fans and 10 prizes to any fans who share our Facebook posts. After we hit 10K, we’ll add an extra prize for every 500 new fans!
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A Candy By Another Name
The history of the Zero bar is a cool one, indeed. In 1920, the Hollywood Brands Company introduced what was then called the Double Zero Bar. At that time, the Minnesota based company manufactured the candies at a factory in Centralia, Illinois. Made of caramel, peanut, almond, and nougat, and covered with a layer of white fudge, it wasn’t long before these Double Zero Bars were known for their distinctive white exterior.
Back in the day, these sweet treats sold for only a penny each, boasting a label that promised kids a steam engine toy if they sent in ten wrappers and fifteen cents. Now that’s the kind of deal you won’t hear about, anymore. It wasn’t until 1934 when the Double Zero Bar was renamed, simply, Zero.
Winds of Change
For the past 93 years, the Zero bar has undergone transformations both big and small. This resilient little candy survived multiple buyouts, first by Consolidated Foods Corporation in 1967, and then Huhtamaki Oy in 1988. It even managed to rebound from a fire that destroyed the Centralia, Illinois plant in 1980.
Over the years, the packaging may have changed- losing the polar bears and frigid arctic scene for a more space-aged, stream-lined design- but the message has always been clear: Zero bars are as cool as zero degrees. They happen to taste great out of the freezer, too.
Today, Zero Bars are produced by Hershey. At almost 100 years old, it’s safe to say that Zero Bars are truly an American classic. So no matter the name change, or the company transfers, one bite of these time-tested treats and you’ll go right back to your youth, regardless of the decade.