Candy Canes are one of the few Christmas traditions which are, by all accounts, 100% Christian and therefore relatively new. The story goes that the canes were commissioned by a choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany who, upset by the rowdy children disrupting his Christmas eve service, asked a local candy maker to create something to keep them quiet. The main idea of the candy cane was that the white (already common) was supposed to be symbolic for the sinless nature of Jesus and the crook at the top was representative of the Shepard’s crook.
Apparently, the treat worked very well because soon it was being replicated all over. In addition to being a treat for the kiddies it was soon discovered how neatly they hung on trees and thus they became the popular decorations we see today. It is unclear where or when the stripe came into play but the first published recipe for the canes- complete with candy stripe- came out in 1844. Shortly thereafter the sugary treats were seen in drawings, mentioned in children’s books and otherwise initiated into the realm of Christmas traditions.
Over the years other popular stick candy flavors of fruits, soda pop and other flavors were made into cane shapes and added to the popular Christmas tradition. Now they come in just about every flavor imaginable are common enough that it’s pretty rare to see a tree without them.