Aren’t candy canes the quintessential Christmas candy? I stopped short in the grocery store last week at a beautiful display of candy canes in multiple flavors — root beer, cinnamon, cherry, strawberry, and of course, peppermint. On closer inspection, I was amazed to read that the candy canes were handmade. I grabbed a peppermint candy cane and hurried home to do some research and tasting.
Hammond’s Candies opened in 1920 in Denver. When Carl Hammond announced on his first day of high school that he didn’t need any more education, his mother allowed him to quit school on the condition that he get a job. He found a job as an apprentice candy-maker, which set the course for his career. Like the owner of many new business ventures, Carl did it all. He developed the recipes, made the candy, and sold it. As demand for his candies grew, so did the company. Hammond’s gained national status in 1995 when Williams Sonoma offered the handmade candies in their stores. Three generations of the Hammond family led the company until 1999. The current owners have expanded the company while continuing the handmade traditions, and maintaining the high standards of quality that were important to Carl. Company tours (fun!) became part of Hammond’s operation, with an annual Candy Cane Festival in December being the high point of the year.
I’ve been doing some extensive taste-testing as I have been working on this post, and there’s just something about a candy cane that brings a smile to my face. It isn’t just that I love the taste of peppermint, although Karen and I had both a major obsession with peppermint candy when we were in high school. Candy canes bring out the kid in all of us, no matter our age. Hammond’s peppermint candy canes are simple perfection.
You can find Hammond’s candy canes in many fine retailers, or order directly from their site. They have many other varieties of candy to choose from, but this time of year, it’s all about the candy cane!