Commentary: Where have all the candy canes gone?

The (Raleigh) News & ObserverDecember 24, 2011 

I swear, I thought the reader was talking about a former very popular stripper at Brothers III.

I heard, "What happened to Kandi Kane?" when what he said was, "What happened to candy canes?"

"Why," the reader named Brian continued, "are there no candy canes in stores this year? Is this a conservative plot? A liberal plot? Has global warming destroyed the candy cane forests at the North Pole?"

First of all, I told Brian, many conservatives are more likely to believe in Santa Claus than in global warming, which they contend is a liberal plot to impede industry. Liberals aren't unified enough to plot anything.

Don't feel bad if you hadn't noticed - until now - the candy cane shortage. Neither had I, although I concur that the once ubiquitous candy cane seems to have disappeared from the holiday confection landscape.

After reading Brian's plaintive plea, I went into a couple of neighborhood stores and gas stations for the express purpose of finding some.

Nothing.

At a Christmas tree-trimming party last week, every kind of traditional tree ornament you can think of hung from the tree. Even a leg lamp like the one Ralphie's dad won in the classic "A Christmas Story" hung regally from a branch. Candy canes, though present, were in short supply. I counted five. (There were three by the time I left.)

Candy canes used to be the perfect present for yourself - they were as cheap as a penny and could last all day if you didn't bite 'em - or for someone else. They were always available as a last-minute stocking stuffer, and you could buy a five-pound cane at King's Grocery in Rockingham for $1.

Whether the disappearance of the candy cane is a result of a political plot isn't as ludicrous as it sounds.

Years ago, somebody with more time than brains floated the idea that candy canes were given as a way for the persecuted Christians to communicate with each other and identify each other on the down low, sort of like a secret handshake.

According to myth-debunking website Snopes.com, theories persisted for centuries that the curved shape was meant to represent the first letter in Jesus' name and the red and white color symbolized the purity and blood of Christ, respectively.

Of course, another thing we should consider is that people have become more health-conscious and that demand for candy canes has simply waned.

I know: that was a joke.

They could, however, be in short supply because they're more popular than ever. At the Lollipop Shop in Raleigh, a saleslady told me, "They've been really popular. We got a lot in at the first of December" but there aren't a lot left, she said.A-ha! Perhaps that explains the great candy cane shortage.

Now, if we can just find the answers to these two burning questions: "Where do tangerines go the rest of the year?" and "What's really in egg nog?"

And finally, "What did happen to Kandi?"

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