What makes something traditional? According to Merriam-Webster, something is traditional when there is “cultural continuity in social attitudes, customs, and institutions.” Celebrating Christmas is certainly traditional: the New Catholic Encyclopedia says the first Christmas was celebrated in Rome in the year 336. Of course, food has always played a big part in the holiday. And that includes sweets (thank you traditionalists!). Take Austria, for example. According to austria.info, it’s long been a tradition in that country to decorate a tree with “sweets and candy wrapped in tinfoil.” Giving, sharing and eating oranges is a Christmas tradition among many cultures in the northern hemisphere because oranges ripen and are available in the winter.
And let’s say you want more than Christmas candy. Check out all the great Christmas gift ideas we have right here. As for traditional Christmas candy, we don’t need to dig too deep. For this list, we’re going to go with the can’t-miss options like hard candy, chocolate and more. Naturally, the venerable candy cane figures in here and we’ve got several suggestions below. You know you’ve had a candy cane, but maybe you’ve never seen one made. Check out this video from Disneyland.
If you’re interested in another kind of Christmas treat, take a look at our list of the Top 10 Best Fruitcakes to Buy for Christmas 2017. Fruitcake gets a bad rap too often, but if you check that list, you’ll see that there are some dang good and high quality FCs out there. But here, it’s candy and the Top 10 Traditional Candies: The Ultimate List. Thankfully, Christmas is when nobody has to feel guilty for loading up on the candy! Just don’t forget to brush your teeth afterward.
1. Bobs Red and White Mini Peppermint Candy Canes
If you’ll forgive the grammar, we ain’t gonna say too much here because CANDY CANE. There’s no explanation needed about why this is the first entry on the list of the Top 10 Traditional Christmas Candies. We will tell you that, according to the book “Introduction to Food Science,” by Rick Parker, the candy cane was created in 1670 in Cologne, Germany, when a choirmaster gave the treats to his young singers so they’d keep quiet. As for the little holiday snack, Bob’s has been making candy canes since the 1920s (according to the company’s website, Bob’s was the first to sell cellophane wrapped candy). This is a tub of 280 mini candy canes. If you want even more, Spangler offers a 500 count box. Or you can opt for the larger (six inch) candy canes from Spangler, which includes six packages of 18 candy canes. We also really like these candy cane spoons, which you can use for stirring holiday drinks. But back to Bob’s, here’s a comment from one reviewer: “Bob’s is the best candy cane I’ve ever had. The perfect amount of peppermint taste from real peppermint oil.”
2. Washburn’s Old Fashioned Hard Candies
These are the hard candies that are the same basic sizes and colors and flavors that you grew up on. Washburn’s has been making candy since 1856. Admittedly, this version of a Washburn product doesn’t get soaring marks among some of the reviews. (On the other hand, many reviewers love it and say it tastes just like they remember from long-ago Christmases.) We are adding it to the list because it pretty much hits a bull’s-eye on the this-is-what-traditional-Christmas-candy-looks-like target. Another option is Primrose Holiday Cut Rock (mmm, right?). It’s another very colorful version of the good old traditional Christmas candies.
3. Hammond’s Ribbon Candy from Miles Kimball
Hammond’s, from its Denver, Colorado headquarters, has been making candy since 1920. This ribbon candy is an assortment of flavors, and Hammond’s makes ribbon candies in cinnamon, cherry and peppermint strips. Another option is the thin peppermint ribbon candy from Sevigny’s, but I’ve noticed that it tends to be low on stock. And yet another option for beautiful ribbon candy is the good people at Russel Stover, who say their ribbon candy is “handmade in small batches.” Russ’s version also seems to get low on stock, whereas the Hammond’s seems to have plenty to offer.
4. Brach’s Peppermint Nougats
We include this item because your faithful scribe’s grandmother used to serve these babies every Christmas. Trust us: They. Are. Great. They’ve got the pepperminty taste that is so associated with the holiday, but our favorite part is that they’re, a) buttery and, b) chewy. (Right, that is our two favorite parts.) The price is kinda high only because this is a large quantity — five pounds. But you’ll find out very quickly that you’ll need more. As one reviewer says: “The best, most addictive substance known to humankind. Even better than chocolate. (I can’t believe I said that, but it’s true.)” Along the same lines, but not soft, are the Yankee Traders Christmas Starlight Mints. By “same lines” we mean they are just as colorful and they’re made with peppermint oil.
5. Solid Milk Chocolate Balls
You say “Christmas,” we say “chocolate.” And when you talk about Christmas chocolate, there is nothing that says it with more clarity than solid milk chocolate balls. You know the kind: a little bit tough to unwrap that foil but, when you get it unwrapped, it’s pretty much perfect. This traditional Christmas candy is made by the Madelaine Chocolate Company in Far Rockaway, Queens, New York. Another option if the orb isn’t your thing is Madelaine’s Santa chocolates or the Frosty The Snowman chocolates or the mini soldiers. The geniuses at Madelaine’s have been doing their chocolatey thing since 1949. Do yours now.
6. Barton’s Old Fashioned Christmas Peppermint Bark
Barton’s, which started in 1890, makes this peppermint bark using crushed peppermint, creamy vanilla and dark chocolate. Sayeth one wise reviewer: “This bark was really delicious. Rich, dark chocolate bottom complimented by cool, creamy white chocolate on top with just enough crushed peppermint to make it come alive – not too sweet.” For something bite sized, Ghirardelli offers this dark peppermint bark chocolate.
7. Hall’s Assorted Fudge
You cannot ignore the fudge factor when it comes to traditional Christmas candies. In this case, it’s from Hall’s Candies from Gillett, Pennsylvania. Hall’s has been around for more than 40 years and it’s very family oriented. Check out the “about” section of their website: “Burton, Leon and Sally Hall purchased Sally’s uncle’s business…(and) in 2011 sold Hall’s Candies to their sister-in-law.” But about the fudge. This one is a one pound assortment comprised of eight different flavors: chocolate, chocolate walnut, peanut butter, chocolate peanut butter, maple walnut, vanilla, chocolate peanut butter layered and penuche walnut. Hall’s has a ton of reviews — more than 500 — but there are a few more fudgey options you might want to investigate. Amish Buggy’s chocolate fudge or Mo’s Fudge Factor dark chocolate fudge.
8. Espeez Strawberry Rock Candy Sticks
When you search for “old fashioned Christmas candy,” the returns include a whole lotta rock candy. This type of candy has been around a long time, certainly, and whether it’s been a part of your Christmas tradition or you want to start making it one, this is a great place to begin. This package comes with 18 individually wrapped rock candies on a stick. Genius idea: use it to stir that hot holiday toddy.
9. Terry’s Milk Chocolate Orange
This one combines a couple of Christmas traditions: chocolate and oranges. Chocolate because, well, of course. And oranges have been a Christmastime tradition for a long time because oranges are readily available (in the northern hemisphere) during the winter months. Terry’s has been around a long time, and this is how they do their orange chocolate ball: it’s a ball with orange segment patterns on the chocolate, and it’s comprised of 20 separate segments — just like an orange is made up of individual segments. One reviewer weighs in with “Extremely yummy if you like orange and chocolate. Only problem I have is it’s hard to stop!” For those of you who prefer dark, Terry’s offers an orange made of dark chocolate. They both say “Whack & Unwrap,” because you gotta smack the thing on the table (while it’s still wrapped) to more easily separate the segments. Ovation makes a version with raspberry framboise flavoring.
10. Lindt Lindor Milk Chocolate Truffles
We’re rounding out the list with truffles, which are a very traditional Christmas candy. And we’re just going to say this, because over the course of our eating life, we’ve heard more than once a little confusion between truffles…and chocolate truffles. These (obvs) are chocolate truffles, as opposed to the mushroom-like thing that grows underground and is used (usually) in savory dishes. Okay. Now that that’s out of the way. These chocolate truffles are a great sort of combination between regular chocolate and fudge. The slightly harder outside with the very soft chocolate filling. In this case you get 60 truffles to a box. Join the crowd — more than 1,300 reviews, with a 4.5 average star rating — and make Christmastime truffletime.