Although perhaps not as prevalent as its confectionery cousin, the candy cane, there are few traditional holiday treats as regal in appearance as ribbon candy. Festively-colored and possessing a satin sheen, it has remained a staple of Christmas candy dishes since the turn of the century.
Ribbon candy consists of a long strip of glossy candy, often flavored with hints of mint and citrus, which is folded back and forth over itself while still warm and left to harden. Once in its brittle state, it can be eaten by either letting it gradually dissolve, or by chomping down, shattering it into small (and considerably sharp) shards. Yes, a few tongues have been sliced over the years by haphazard indulgence, but that rarely serves as a deterrent.
Two competing candy companies, FB Washburn and Sevigny’s, manufactured ribbon candy for decades, before finally merging in 1986, which makes FB Washburn (one of the oldest American candy companies in existence) the largest maker of ribbon candy in the world. The product is sold in decorative boxes that contain an assortment of this sweet delicacy, ready to be pulled out and displayed in a nice candy dish.
Unfortunately, ribbon candy looks almost too good to eat, and it isn’t uncommon for it to sit untouched until the holidays have passed. And, should the room it is sitting in be warm enough to melt it slightly, the ribbons have a tendency to adhere to each other, as if they had been crazy-glued together, making one giant hunk of inseparable ribbon candy, it’s colorful sheen dulled by a light coating of accumulated dust. And that’s a shame, because it is truly a delicious seasonal treat, one that was meant to be appreciated, and then eaten. So the next time you see a dish of ribbon candy, go ahead and don’t be shy. Your sweet tooth will thank you and you will be saving it from an undeserved dusty demise.
If ribbon candy has long been a holiday tradition in your household, we hope you’ll take a few minutes to share your recollections of this seasonal favorite in our comments section.