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Betsy Block


Waste Not

Waste Not
When it comes to candy canes, I usually gather them up, hide them on the mantle where the kids can't see them, wait until they've been forgotten, and then throw them out. But this week, when E brought home his sixth, I started wondering: What are candy canes all about, anyway?

As the experienced investigative reporter that I am, I logged onto Candy USA to find out. At the very moment that the site came up on my computer E, now almost ten, meandered into my office, asked, "Whatcha doing, Mo- " then saw the computer screen and started jumping up and down and screaming out "Candy USA!! Candy USA, mommy! Candy USA!" He was kidding around, but nonetheless, I'd just gotten enough embarrassing collateral to last the entire week of vacation. He was mine.

Of course, this happy blackmail-gathering moment was just a bonus because obviously I'd gone to Candy USA to learn about (insert a deep announcer voice here)

The History of Candy Canes.

This is what I discovered:

"Legend has it that in 1670, the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany handed out sugar sticks to his young singers to keep them quiet during the long Living Creche ceremony. In honor of the occasion, he had the candies bent into shepherds' crooks. In 1847, a German-Swedish immigrant named August Imgard of Wooster, Ohio, decorated a small blue spruce with paper ornaments and candy canes. It wasn't until the turn of the century that the red and white stripes and peppermint flavors became the norm."

OK, given the choice of a long religious service without candy canes and a long religious service with them, even I would be able to appreciate their intrinsic appeal. But this is not the 17th century (thank God), and I'm not trapped in a drawn out Living Creche service (also thank God). But without those critical factors, the question becomes: Does anyone actually like candy canes? Not in our house, or at least not more than one per winter. But multiple canes? I don't think so.

Fortunately, earlier this week, E had a brainstorm: a candy cane milkshake. As a reward for coming up with this delicious innovation that makes use of one of the banes of the holidays, I might even promise not to hold the embarrassing Candy USA incident over his head - at least, not until I really need it.

E's Candy Cane Milkshakes

(Use chocolate ice cream if you must, says E, but "you won't have the vanilla flavor and it will be kind of bitter." Yeah, whatever. I just think he doesn't like chocolate ice cream.)

3 candy canes (broken up)
5 scoops vanilla ice cream (about a cup and a half, says BD)
7 Tbsp. chocolate syrup
cup milk

Put all ingredients in food processor and blend until - "until it looks blended," says E, sensibly. There will still be small pieces of crunchy candy cane in it. Top with crushed-up cane if you want.

Wow. Consider me a newly-minted candy cane fan.

Happy New Year, everyone.