A candy cane is a hard cane-shaped candy stick. It is traditionally white with red (Since 1900 when red coloring was added) stripes and flavored with peppermint however, it is also made in a variety of other flavors and may be decorated with stripes of different colors and thicknesses. The candy cane is available year-round, but traditionally surrounds the Christmas holiday.
In its early form, the candy cane began as a simple white stick of sugar for children to enjoy - there was no "cane" shape or stripes to speak of. While it is uncertain where the first canes originated, it is clear that by the mid-17th century, if not earlier, its use had already become widespread across Europe.
These sticks were made by confectioners who had to pull, cut, twist, and (in later years) bend the sugar sticks by hand, making it a time-intensive process. Candy cane production had to be done locally, since they were easily damaged and vulnerable to moisture. The labor required, and difficulty of storage, combined to make these candies relatively hard to get, although popular.
The distinctive "hook" shape associated with candy canes is traditionally credited to a choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral in Germany, who, legend has it, in 1670 bent straight candy sticks into canes to represent a shepherd's crook, and gave them to children at church services.
The stripes are made similar in fashion to a barber's pole, with the red stripes twisting around the white stick of sugar. These signature stripes did not become part of the candy cane until the 20th century.
It is uncertain who first started using the stripes, but evidence of their use only appears after the turn of the century. At around this time, candy makers began using peppermint as a flavor. One of the first documented candy canes in this form is the Polkagris, invented in 1859.