Every Christmas Eve, I like to make candy cane bark for friends and family. Because it’s an excuse to eat melted chocolate by the spoonful, and I’ve always found that smashing candy canes with a mallet is the best way to get any holiday angst out. But this year, I — like many Canadians — am straight out of luck, as a candy cane shortage has swept across our nation.
Recently, I found myself strolling through the aisles of my local grocery store looking for candy canes. When I asked someone working the floor to direct me to said candy canes, certain I must have missed them, he pointed me in the direction of the blue fruit-flavored cane-shaped candies. Obviously, these imitation canes were masquerading as the real thing and wouldn’t do at all, so I went home defeated.
I’m not the only Canadian suffering from a lack of my favourite Christmas candies. Many retailers have been unable to stock the holiday staple on shelves this year, thanks to a U.S. takeover of a popular Canadian candy cane brand. It turns out, the candy canes we know and love were manufactured by the company Allan Candy. Recently, Hershey’s took this company over, and for whatever reason, they’re no longer manufacturing enough candies to meet Canada’s very serious needs this time of year.
Why is this happening to us?
The Hershey’s owned Allan Candy apparently “told all the retailers that they were not going to produce candy canes for this year’s Christmas for 2015,” explained Mitchell Eng — a man who orders candy canes for London Drugs Canada — in an interview with CBC News.
This crisis is also affecting people like Dick Wording, who dresses up as Santa at Vancouver events. Wording told CBC that he tried to stock up on the 7,000 peppermint candy canes he typically buys each year, but could only track down yucky fruit-flavoured candy canes covered in cartoon characters like Frozen‘s Elsa and Batman.
“There was cherry, raspberry and watermelon, if you can believe it. The peach ones were awful,” Wording told CBC.
More: Chocolate peanut butter bark
How do we survive?
If you’re lucky, you may find a retailer who ordered candy canes from one of the brands working to fill the candy cane void in our nation, like Karma Candy, a Hamilton-based manufacturer. “Our sales of candy canes have exploded — up, in essence, 30 percent year over year with the same customers,” Karma Candy’s Craig Bliss explained to CBC.
Alternatives to candy canes
If you can’t get your hands on any candy canes, you may have to have to get creative in the kitchen.
You don’t have to give up your Christmas bark — check out these delicious candy cane-free bark ideas that people are sharing on social media. You can swap out your usual candy cane for ingredients like pistachios, Craisins, dried fruit, M&M’s, pretzels or sprinkles:
— CIOKO LOVE ™ (@ciokolove) December 19, 2014
— Keeks (@Keta_Ko) December 20, 2015
And you can still get that minty taste without the canes themselves. Try adding a little peppermint oil — or better yet Peppermint Schnapps — to your usual hot chocolate. Because once you’ve had a few Peppermint Schnapps hot chocolates, you’ll have forgotten our national candy cane crisis entirely.
More: 23 Gluten-free Christmas cookie recipes to try this holiday season