Candy Cane Traditions

Cara books, christmas 4 Comments

I wanted to introduce you to our newest family Christmas tradition — one that grew out of writing a book.

In my latest book, Where Treetops Glisten, the heroine in my novella works at a candy shop that opened in Lafayette, Indiana, in 1912. The name’s changed (today it’s McCords), but they still make the same Christmas candy canes the same way they were made a couple generations ago. Over the weekend the family and I went on one of the candy cane tours… and I flashed back to two Christmases ago, when I knew I’d be writing White Christmas and I knew my heroine would work at Glatz’ Candy. But I didn’t know how they made their famous candy canes.

Isn’t the shop adorable? It has the best candy counter!

On a Saturday I was headed out to write for a couple hours. I foolishly headed to my normal writing spot — the Panera in the Mall — forgetting it was a Saturday in the beginning of December. I didn’t even bother to park.

Instead, I turned my car downtown and decided to work at the law firm. Only problem? No food. So I walked two blocks to McCords, trying to generate the courage to ask someone about the candy cane process. This may be hard to believe, but this author still feels like she’s really sticking her neck when she tells people she’s writing a book!

Trays of candy canes cooling. We didn’t realize until this time that they shrink as they cool.

As I walked up to the candy shop, I noticed a sign that said candy cane tours $2. Seriously? I ordered my taco salad and asked the clerk. Next thing I was hiking up two flights of stairs to the candy making floor. I. Was. In. Heaven. The stairwell has the most beautiful wood bannister and tin roof. Then you get to the candy floor and I took photos, videos and notes as the employees worked their magic with sugar, water, flavoring, and a tiny bit of coloring to make the candy canes. It was so fascinating that the next day I took the whole family.

Last week, we went again. The kids agree that McCords candy canes are the way candy canes are supposed to be. After watching employees make the sugary confection and twist the red and white together, we got to shape our candy canes. Too fun!

The kids and I on our way up. Isn’t the wood beautiful? And you can just see the tin ceiling.

I felt a wee bit like Abigail Turner, the heroine in Where Treetops Glisten, as I twisted mine into a heart. And I think this just might become a new family Christmas tradition.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into the sweet lengths authors will go to research a story. If only all of our research tasted this good when we were done! Scroll through the photos from our visit to the end for a video our local TV station took of the process. It’s b-roll, and accurately shows how Abigail makes the candy canes in White Christmas.

Pulling the sugary concoction. It starts amber colored and turns white as air is added.


Layering the red on bottom, white, and then three thin stripes of red on top.

heart candy cane

My Heart Candy Cane

Now you can see the red stripes on top.

Very important: pulling the colors together

Twisting our own candy canes.

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Comments 4

  1. We always have snack foods on Christmas Eve and watch our favorite Christmas movies. This year, we only have two children left at home to continue the tradition but they are looking forward to it. Also, we go as a family to see a movie every Christmas. This year we are going early to see The Hobbit.

  2. Cara, I love making candy with my children. It always starts with peanut butter fudge, then chocolate fudge, buckeyes, rocky road and the list grows each and every year. Of course my children fill the need to be taste

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