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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Candy canes are a Christmas Tradition dating way back to the late 1600's. They were first popular in Europe when they were first used for decorations on their Christmas Trees along with Christmas Cookies. At that time they were peppermint flavor, but just a white candy stick, no stripes.

In about 1670 the sticks of candy were bent into the shape of a shepherd’s crook and passed them out to children who attended the ceremonies at the Cologne Cathedral. This tradition was the beginning of giving out candy canes to the kids.

Although candy canes at been very popular in Europe, they didn't make their way to America until the 1800's. It wasn't until the 20th. century did they gain their stripes.

Today candy canes are still a Christmas tradition, however over the years they have been expanded to many different flavors. There are many candy manufacturers that have started making candy canes in a variety of flavors.

Frankford candy company has come out with a Sour Patch Candy cane. With the success of their sour patch kids in mind. These candy canes are bright in color and just like the other sour patch treats they are sour first then sweet. They come in a 10 count box in the flavors or lemon, lime , orange and redberry. Kids and adults love the sweet and sour flavors.

Spangler candy company has come out with not only Smarties Candy Canes, but also Jelly Belly Candy Canes. The Smarties Candy Canes come in a 12 count box. Pretty Pastel candy canes in the same yummy flavors as the smarties candy rolls. Jelly Belly Candy Canes come in a 12 count box. The are fruity flavors of Watermelon , Blueberry and Tutti-Fruitti. These canes are green, blue and pink in color with red stripes.

Hershey Candy Company brought out Jolly Rancher Candy Canes. These are a delicious treat in the bold fruity flavors of smoothies. Each box of jolly ranchers comes in Strawberry, Mixed Berry and Watermelon. Don't let the name Hershey fool you as they are known for not only making the best chocolate treats, but also tasty hard candies.

Farleys and Sathers has come out with a Mini Sour Brite Candy Canes. Sour brite crawlers is a favorite gummy loved by many. Now you can have the same fruity flavors in a hard candy cane. Each box has 50 mini's each cane each has two flavor combination. You get apple/peach, watermelon/mixed berry and a raspberry/lemon flavors.

We can't forget about the candy man Willy Wonka, he even has even come out with canes manufactured by Nestle. Yummy sweet tart candy canes. Each box has 12 sweet and tart tangy fruit candy canes in the traditional flavor of sweet tarts we have all come to love. You get Blue Punch, Green Apple and Cherry.

Of course we also carry the traditional peppermint candy canes with the red and white stripes.

Whether you prefer to get the peppermint or you would like to try something new, remember candy canes not only are fun to eat, but hey are a great stocking stuffer as well as using them on top of your Christmas presents.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010
The candy cane is a sweet and delicious symbol of all that is Christmas. During the holiday season, you’ll see them in all their delicious forms and will probably pop a few of these sweet candies into your mouth before the holiday season is over. There are loads of creative ways to use candy canes in craft projects, home décor, and even Christmas recipes. Here are some candy cane ideas to make your upcoming Christmas celebrations special:

Candy Cane Idea 1: Use candy canes in Christmas recipes.

Candy canes are sweet and delicious on your own but they can provide another dimension to your Christmas recipes. Try crushing candy canes into fragments with a hammer and sprinkle them on ice cream, cakes, cupcakes, or pies. Add them as an ingredient to your chocolate chip or sugar cookies. Soften a pint of vanilla ice cream and add peppermint candy pieces. Add a touch of peppermint extract and mix thoroughly. Refreeze this mixture and you’ll have candy cane ice cream for Christmas night. You also dip your candy canes into chocolate you’ve melted in the microwave. When they cool, you’ll have chocolate covered candy canes which taste delicious. Don’t forget about using candy canes to stir your hot chocolate or coffee.

Candy Cane Idea 2: Use candy canes to decorate your Christmas tree.

Candy canes are a natural for decorating your Christmas tree. Hang them as is or tie a pretty ribbon around the top of the candy cane before dangling them from the Christmas tree. Lay one candy cane on top of the other in a “x” shape. Attach a looped ribbon and hang them from the tree as ornaments. Be sure to hang them high enough so your dog or cat won’t make a meal out of them!

Candy Cane Idea 3: Use candy canes to decorate your house.

Buy a grapevine wreath base at your local craft store. Attach bunches of candy canes to the wreath base interspersed with bright red ribbons and other Christmas symbols. Attach your with a hot glue gun and admire your beautiful handiwork. You can also use candy canes to make a decorative Christmas garland to adorn your Christmas tree. For an interesting look, attach candy canes to plant sticks and insert them into all of your plant containers to give your house a holiday look.

Candy Cane Idea 4: Use candy canes to welcome your guests.

Place a beautiful crystal bowl on a pedestal by the front door. Fill the bowl with candy canes to entice carolers and other Christmas guests. Give each guest a candy cane as they leave your house.

There are a multitude of candy cane craft projects for both children and adults to use those extra candy canes after Christmas. A quick internet search will yield instructions for making a variety of useful craft related items out of these sweet candies. You can never have too many candy canes at Christmas.

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Sunday, November 21, 2010
I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the anticipation of Christmas morning when I was a kid. Totally jumping the gun on the Holiday that comes before Christmas and is just as important to our memories and families as Christmas is, just not as sensational. Thanksgiving, I apologize, whole-heartedly, for you are the springboard that launches the Christmas season. Thanksgiving is the day when we say "ready, set, go!" on Christmas. Macy's parade, Black Friday, Newspapers thick with sale flyers, doorbusters, crazy early waiting in line for bargains, it all begins here. Thanksgiving is the calm before the storm.

Families gather at this time of year to be families again. We drive, bus, and fly in from all over the globe to be together and reconnect. We see how the kids of our relatives and friends have grown. We feel sad that some are not with us at this time anymore. We ourselves, have moved from the kid's table, to the head of the table. The family's number expands and contracts through the years, we lose some, we gain some. Aunt Millie is gone, but Jon and Sara bring a new baby, Cindy brings a new boyfriend who's seems like a nice guy. He passes the test in my mind, I hope he stays a part of the family. While hustling around the kitchen, I talk to those passing through and think how nice it is to have everyone here. The doorbell rings again, the number of guests increases. I can hear the half a dozen different conversations going on through the house. Everyone is glad to see everyone again. This day we put our differences aside and it serves to ease us all into that very important time of year. Together. Thanksgiving is a great tool to reintroduce us to each other.

When dinner time arrives, the conversation and laughter lowers to a pleasant hum over the feast that we have all gathered for. I look around to the tables from my chair now at the head of the big table, and sigh with a warm feeling of contentment. This is why we gather, this why we have inserted these times into our collective lives. When I was young, I remember the Thanksgiving events my Mother would put on. She was never happier any other time of year than she was at Thanksgiving. Mom would prepare such a spread that our guests would be in absolute awe. Her Thanksgiving dinners were legendary. After us kids left the nest and started our own families, Mom and Dad downsized their life to an apartment in a very large building. We would arrive at their apartment on Thanksgiving day and the door would be open filling the hallways with the aromas of my childhood. There were a lot of older people in the building who were alone on the Holiday. The door of the apartment remained open throughout the day. People from all over the building would follow their noses and hearts to her door where they knew they were always welcome. You were greeted with a hug and a plate. "Go help yourself" she would say. Only her heart was bigger than her smile.

Our family has shrunk over the years and the gatherings aren't quite as large, but they are just as important. My wife and I have hosted Thanksgiving dinner for the last twenty years. Now our family is growing again. The faces have changed, but the purpose is the same. As the guests arrive the noise and laughter increases as it did in years past. Everyone is in awe of the spread put out again. They nibble and mingle and get to know each other again. They wonder what inspires us to create such an event. I swallow the lump in my throat, put on a big smile and respond, "Heaven only knows." Life goes full circle.

After dinner us men retire to the family room for football and napping. The ladies circulate the sale papers around the kitchen table, plotting out their plans for the strategic assault of the stores the following day. Thanksgiving is again the launch of the Christmas season. So goes my apology to Thanksgiving. I leapfrogged you chronologically, but not in importance. Forgive me Thanksgiving, for you fire the starting gun for my most favorite time of year.

This blog, our Facebook page, our soon to come Twitter feed, and the original O'Ryans video store that started O'Ryans Village are all parts of the grand idea to bring the good old days that we all yearn for back to us, one little piece at a time. We know those days are gone, but they can be revisited and re-lived one moment at a time. It's ironic that we are able to use such technologies to help us trip back through simpler times. It is our mission and passion to help you do just that.  

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What would Christmas be without the sweet little treats ?  Part of the old time Christmas traditions involve candy. Whether you are looking for something from St. Nick, sweet treats to put in your stockings, candy to fill your candy dishes or to use with your holiday baking. What ever reason it is the season of sweetness.

Old fashioned Christmas candy and Candy Canes can be seen in just about everyone's house at Christmas.   Old time favorites like Peppermint Christmas Nougats, Mint Filled Straws, Old Fashioned Filled Christmas Mix,  Thin Ribbon Candy and Peppermint Bark. As a kid we would always find these sweets at Grandma's house and Aunt Alice's house. However just like most  kids chocolate is the candy of choice, yet we always seemed to have our hands in the candy dish.

Oh and the Christmas stockings, how I would lay awake at night just thinking about what we would find in them the next morning. Popcorn balls always were in the toe of the stocking, I never did eat it, but sure would have been disappointed if it wasn't there. Some other favorite Stocking Stuffers would be chocolate covered marshmallow santa's,  chocolate bells, Reese's peanut butter trees, chocolate santa suckers, giant peppermint sticks and a variety of chocolate santa's and other foil wrapped treats.
Of course we also found a tooth brush, coloring book and crayons and a couple of candy canes. It was pretty much the same candy every year, however we couldn't wait to dig in.

Decorating your holiday goodies with candy is becoming more and more popular. Many transform an ordinary cup cake into a very festive treat just by adding some colored sugars and a chocolate santa on top. There are some many ways to dress up your holiday treats with a little extra candy. Whether you are baking your own treats or treats for a bake sale, adding some extra goodies sure can make a difference.

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