What would Christmas be without bright red and white candy canes.
This time of year at Nelson’s Columbia Candy Kitchen in the historic Columbia State Park, the pungent-sweet, unmistakable aroma of peppermint perfumes the air.
Perfect to get into the holiday spirit.
Mint has long been the symbol of hospitality, and Mike and Janice Nelson each season give hundreds of folks, both young and old, hands-on experience in the age-old art of making the candy synonymous with Christmas – candy canes.
Third generation candy maker Mike Nelson says the recipe is simple.
“Candy canes are one part corn syrup to four parts sugar and a quart of water for each 10 pounds,” instructs Nelson. “It´s a very simple hard candy recipe. It´s what you do with it after that, that gets interesting.”
The candy maker listed all the variations made from the one recipe, including lemon drops, lollypops, ribbon candy and, of course, Christmas candy canes.
Nelson’s makes about 60 huge batches of candy canes each holiday season, with most of the canes being given away. The Nelsons say it´s part of the “Christmas spirit.”
Mary Crawford and her husband Roger Jacoby of Sacramento were part of a candy cane-making class in Columbia during a recent Saturday session.
“This is so much fun,” exclaimed Jacoby as she quickly rolled out a still warm cylinder of the red and white-striped candy while it was still pliable. “It´s just exciting,” she said. “It makes Christmas more special to me.”
Crawford says the experience is a walk down memory lane. “It helps older people to get back to the magic of Christmas and it´s good for the children, too,” she said.
Most participants after the hour-long class were smiling with the satisfaction of making their very own candy cane.
“To be able to experience it firsthand and right in the trenches instead of standing on the other side of a glass partition watching it is wonderful,” said Jacoby.
His wife echoed the feeling. “Children are seeing everything so automated and in a package, so, for them to see how things are actually manufactured by live people is really great.”