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When it comes to shopping, it turns out we spend quite a bit on ourselves, and, often, it’s not really out of need. Buzz60’s Nathan Rousseau Smith (@fantasticmrnate) has more.
By now, the Christmas tree limbs are sagging, the pretty gift wrappings are a wadded mess and the eggnog carton is almost empty.
But one vestige of the holiday is left: Tuesday is National Candy Cane Day.
Sure, half-licked candy canes may have already turned your carpets into sticky messes. The mere sight of candy-cane decorations at stores may be enough to send you in a peppermint fit.
But there’s no getting past this seasonal last hurrah for the sugary crooks.
Americans will spend $1.93 billion on sweet holiday treats this year, including that twirled Christmas classic, according to the National Confectioners Association, a Washington-based trade group.
“It’s not just candy canes. It’s candy-cane ice cream, candy-cane lattes, candy-cane marshmallows. Then, they’re gone and you wait for the next year,” said Christine Couvelier, president of the food development firm Culinary Concierge. “It’s a food memory for a lot of us. When you go to visit Santa Claus, you get a candy cane.”
Here are five things to give your post-holiday brain a red-and-white minty boost:
The tradition goes back centuries
The “Christmas equals candy canes” idea predates the United States by more than 100 years. The tradition was born in the Cologne Cathedral in Germany, because the choirmaster needed something to keep the child singers quiet during the long service, according to the National Confectioners Association. Credit for the bend at the top goes to him, too. He thought it would look like a shepherd’s crook.
Red stripes are relatively new
Back then, the sweet treat was an all-white stick, the organization said. The candy cane got its infusion of red only around the start of the 20th Century.
More: Candy cane treats across the country
More: Boot those unwanted gifts during holiday return-a-thon
Candy canes go like hot cakes now
Ninety percent of candy canes sold each year are purchased between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, the trade association said. Plus, these guys are the top-selling non-chocolate candy in December.
Candy canes are on trend
Starbucks debuted a candy cane-flavored whoopee pie this year. There are plenty of products that return every year, like Pepperidge Farms’ Candy Cane Milano cookies, Hershey’s Candy Cane Bar, ChapStick lip balm and Yankee Candle Candy Cane Lane candles.
You can also find candy cane-flavored Peeps, Swiss Miss hot chocolate and Pop Rocks.
Look no further than your Christmas tree
The red-and-white candy sticks are a popular holiday decoration in the U.S., thanks to a German immigrant who’d moved to Wooster, Ohio, named August Imgard.
He’s credited by some with introducing the Christmas tree to Americans, according to the Wooster Digital History Project, a project of the College of Wooster.
The Food and Drug Administration warns of the health risks tied to the overconsumption of black licorice just in time for Halloween.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Zlati Meyer on Twitter: @ZlatiMeyer