Candy canes seem to only exist during the holiday season. The sweet, striped, J-shaped treat is a symbol of Christmas. They can be added to the Christmas tree, a gingerbread house, or displayed on a windowsill. But if you’re like the rest of us, you prefer to eat the minty candy canes.

But why do we enjoy eating candy canes at Christmastime? Where did they come from?

What The Theory Says

Historians don’t know much about the candy cane’s origin. But one theory suggests the candy was invented in 1670 by a choirmaster at Germany’s Cologne Cathedral. He handed out white, cane-shaped candy to children during a church service. The shape was supposedly intended to represent a shepherd’s crook.

Gizmodo

But when the candy finally arrived in the United States, it was infused with peppermint flavors to spice up its appearance. After all, who wants a plain white candy cane when you could have more fun with red-and-white striped candy canes?

More Peppermint, Please

Contrary to what many believe, it wasn’t a random idea to add peppermint to candy canes once the confection arrived in the U.S. Originally, it was believed peppermint could cure illnesses, including indigestion.

Leaf

Peppermint became a popular ingredient for many foods in the late 18th century. However, in 2018, peppermint is still desired by many.

Popular At Christmastime

There are many reasons why peppermint candy canes are popular at Christmastime. For example, the treat can be used to decorate Christmas trees, added to drinks and desserts, and used for various crafts.

But the most popular reason is religious symbolism. A candy cane now has many Christian symbols: the white stripes represent Jesus’ purity, the red stripes are symbolic of the blood, and the J-shape represents Jesus’ name.

Oglebay Institute

While the candy wasn’t created for the religious symbols, you can’t have Christmas without eating a minty candy cane. It’s a tradition.