Appalachian Food Christmas

Christmas Candy

red Christmas hard rock candy

I always think of candy at Christmas time. I’ll admit I have a sweet tooth year round, but this time of the year I think of the speciality type candies that are usually made only once a year.

Granny made lots of special candies during Christmas when I was a a girl. She always made divinity and she had these cute little molds that she made a type of sweet mint candy in. The molds left prints of Santa, Holly, and other Christmas things.

The candies I remember most at Granny Gazzie’s were all flavors of stick candy, orange peanuts, and orange candy slices. I can never see them that I don’t think of Granny Gazzie.

For the last ten years or more Granny’s brother brings her a couple of boxes of stick candy during Christmas.

Since I started making pralines years ago I’ve sort of become known for making them this time of the year. When the girls were little and I started making goodies in the lead up to Christmas they’d say “Momma when you gonna make the brown candy?” That’s what they called pralines 🙂

Here’s a series of candy posts I’ve written over the years.

What’s your favorite Christmas candy?

Last night’s video: Greening Christmas in Appalachia.


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  • Reply
    Barbara Parker
    December 15, 2021 at 7:57 pm

    Tipper, Yesterday I made your buttermilk pralines and they are wonderful! I watched you on you tube and followed along and they turned out just right. I took some of them to our Church Christmas Gathering and they were a hit. Thank you for sharing your recipe and teaching me how to make this wonderful delight. Merry Christmas!

  • Reply
    December 14, 2021 at 10:50 am

    When my granddaughter was in first grade she asked if I knew how to make hard candy. She wanted to make some to give to her teachers for Christmas. I did, so I started teaching her how by first letting her pick out the flavors, then help measure the ingredients in the pot before turn on the stove. Each year I let her do a little more so she can one day she can do it on her own. She’s in 6th grade now and we started out making one double batch and another regular batch at the same time. We both learned a good lesson, that having two pots side by side on the stove intensifies the heat and sadly will burn the candy quickly. We trashed the burnt candy, cleaned up our mess, chalked it up to a lesson learned and started again. She started one pot again, flavored it strawberry and even spooned it out in the heart shaped molds we were using, while I cleaned up. First batch was a success! She started another pot made it Pina Colada flavor. It too was a success. In all the previous years we have never burned our hard candy, so this year she and I experienced what not to do in making hard candy. Each year she and I have made the hard candy we put them in nice containers and she gives them to her teachers. I will say this year she pretty much did it all herself. I was proud of her. She still has one more part about making hard candy. Lord willing, next year, I’m going to teach her the hardest part. How to clean it all up! 😉

  • Reply
    Shelley in Michigan
    December 13, 2021 at 8:26 pm

    Last month I was reading your blog with my 11 year old granddaughter. Somehow your praline pecans came up and Callie wanted to watch it. She got excited and said we could make those. So next day right after breakfast and still in our pajamas, I supervised while she made them. She was so proud of herself. After that we were on your site again and she said “Grammy we can make butter.” I didn’t say anything and she hasn’t asked about it so hopefully we will stick to pralines.

  • Reply
    Gloria Hayes
    December 13, 2021 at 8:09 pm

    I have three favorites. My mother’s fudge which she made with a Hershey bar, so delicious. My mother in law’s tea cakes she made every Christmas and chocolate covered peanuts. My daddy would travel to a little town and the general store sold them in bags and he would buy them for all of us and even though we all loved them, they were his favorite. Years later when he was in the nursing home, I would ask him wouldn’t he like some chocolate covered peanuts for Christmas and he would just smile. And I went back to that same general store and bought them for him. Sweet memories!!!

  • Reply
    Denise R
    December 13, 2021 at 6:38 pm

    My youngest daughter and I will be making Christmas cookies and candy this Thursday. We are so looking forward to it and her daughters, our grand daughters, one is 3 and the other is 2, will get to help and see this tradition continue on! Through the years I’ve always made cookies and different candies. Now that it’s just the 2 of us at home, I don’t make as much like I did when our kids were still home. I will cherish this time spend with Nicole, Harper and Wren along with my step mom Reda. This will be a fun day making memories and love!!

  • Reply
    December 13, 2021 at 5:19 pm

    My favorite would be anything with fudge or at least some chocolate in it. Did your Grannie Gazzie have the peppermint sticks with the red only on the outside? My sister would suck off the red while I was at school and leave just the white for me. Hence the question when anyone was upset, “Who licked the red off his candy?”

    • Reply
      December 13, 2021 at 6:20 pm

      Jackie-I’ve never seen that kind! Granny Gazzie had the swirled white and red ones 🙂

  • Reply
    Kathy Gautier
    December 13, 2021 at 11:37 am

    After a weekend of cookie, fudge and dipped cookies making, I am really enjoying reading your post and all the comments. One thread runs all of us….remembering and honoring our family traditions and the memories we are making that our children and grandchildren will remember and hopefully pass on. I remember helping my Grandma make a Japanese fruit cake and a Raisin cake for our Christmases. I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and makes lots of memories.

  • Reply
    December 13, 2021 at 11:04 am

    My memories of Childhood Christmases always brings to my mind the old fashioned stick peppermint candy at my Grandparents home and they also had a box of hard candies that had filling. My one Aunt was known for her Divinity candy at Christmas. My Mother always had the Orange sliced candy, Orange Peanut candy (looked like a peanut), and Coconut Candy that was pink and brown I think. Mother’s specialty at Christmas was her Mother’s old-timey Orange Cake and fresh Coconut Cake. I always buy a bag of the old-timey looking peppermint candy and I smile when I see the Orange Sugar coated candy thinking of those special Christmas Memories with my Parents and Grandparents. My Husband always bought a box of those Chocolate Covered Cherries and when our children were growing up I made the Peanut Butter Fudge with Marshmallow Creme. You need two people to stir this because it sets up fast:}

    Thanks for sharing your Greening Christmas Video. We must share DNA somewhere because I love, love, love to go out and cut greenery for my home and also to create Christmas Arrangements. We have quite a few pines and arborvitaes in our yard. Our Christmas Sunday School Party was last Saturday so Friday I went out and cut pine boughs and my son brought me arborvitaes cuttings. I had bought some fresh red and white carnations at the grocery store so with all I had I created a Christmas Arrangement Gift and in the middle of the greenery I stuck a Peppermint Candy Cane still in its cellophane wrapping. We had so much fun at our Christmas Party. We sit in a circle and as a story is read we pass the gifts either right or left until the last part of the story is read and that direction whether right or left becomes that person’s gift. I had prayed that my gift would find its way to someone that really would enjoy it. The little lady’s eyes lit up as she pulled it out of its wrappings. She lives in an assisted living home and had down sized when she moved so she didn’t have any Christmas decorations. She smelled the fresh pine and said oh it smells so good! I love the smell of pines too!!

  • Reply
    December 13, 2021 at 10:38 am

    Making candy, fudge, trash and all kind of Christmas snacks is the best time at Christmas. It just more special. I have already started. I love the Ritz dipped in white chocolate. That combination is so good. I bet Granny still makes her Christmas stuff. It all looks so good Tipper.

  • Reply
    December 13, 2021 at 10:16 am

    My family did fudge, but cookies were the thing. Lots and lots of different cookies
    I remember store bought candy that was different, clear colors in the shapes of Santa in a sleigh and 3 or 4 other shapes. They came mounted in an open faced container. Can’t remember the name, anyone have a memory of them?

  • Reply
    Terry Huffaker
    December 13, 2021 at 9:07 am

    I am a maker of pralines at Christmas; something I learned from my mother. My wife is the fudge maker in our family and a very good one, at that. Mostly chocolate but occasionally peanut butter! Not a lot of candies were made in my home as a small child; it was during the war years and
    sugar was rationed as was other items. I admit the postwar era was when my taste for candy really developed but doing my best to carry on the tradition of homemade candies at Christmas time. Love the memories you share of Appalachian life.

  • Reply
    Kat Swanson
    December 13, 2021 at 9:06 am

    In the VA. coalfields, folks made a peanut butter type candy called Martha Washington…was a roll up and cut pinwheel candy that I have lost the recipe for years ago.
    On Christmas eve ,if you picked up your lay a ways at the hardware store, you got a box of chocolate covered cherries…still my favorite. Daddy like boughton hard candy and peppermint sticks. One year my mom bought a box of chocolate drops from a salesman that stayed at the motel where she worked. The smallest box he sold was 10pounds. Our eyes got bigger and bigger as she counted them out in equal piles for my parents and me and my 4 ugly brothers. That was a lot of candy!! To this day , those little chocolate drops with their pointy top…I hate that candy! Yall can look up Tippers post on …FOUNDERED!!

  • Reply
    December 13, 2021 at 9:05 am

    My favorite candy would be anything chocolate except fudge. Back in the day children learned young, and my sister experimented with fudge until she married and left home. I guess I must have eaten too much of her “Million Dollar Fudge.” She just told me the other day she never makes it anymore. My Mother loved the old hard candy so popular at Christmas, and I rarely see it anymore. I suppose my sentimental favorite of all time is that orange slice candy. My grandmother would reward us with one piece many days when we behaved well. It was the highlight of any day, as we gathered around her long apron for a piece of that orange slice candy.

  • Reply
    Patricia Wilson
    December 13, 2021 at 9:02 am

    My dad always bought a large box of those chocolate covered cherries to his grandmother at Christmas. She had been a huge factor in rearing him when his dad, my grandfather, died in a coal mining accident, leaving my grandmother a very young widow with a baby and a toddler to raise. My great grandmother was not a selfish person but she always took the candy to her bedroom as soon as she unwrapped it. As far as I could tell, there was no danger that the family would eat her candy because no one else liked those horrible, cheap-chocolate confections (chocolate snob here). We always had the Christmas ribbon hard candy. My favorite was Kentucky cream candy, which we bought at Miss Sula and Miss Liza’s dry goods store. Every December I buy some Kentucky cream candy online, but it’s not the same as going into the shop on the courthouse square run by those spinster sisters.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    December 13, 2021 at 8:41 am

    I think of a lot of different Christmas candies; southern creme drops, fruit slices, foil-wrapped toffees, Christmas mix hard candy, chocolate-covered cherries, ribbon candy, art candy with the little flowers in the middle and candy sticks. I know, these are all store-bought but we had no tradition of homemade candy at our house growing up. No idea why not.

    Some relative who lived and worked ‘up north’ once brought a big bag of the foil-wrapped toffees. I loved the rich colors of the foil. Could have decorated a Christmas tree with them. I don’t even remember the toffees themselves.

    My most favorite though was the Christmas mix hard candy. One reason I liked it was because as long as it lasted I could carry some in my pocket when I was outside. I also liked finding the flavors in the mix; citrus, clove, cinnamon, root beer, wintergreen, grape etc. Seems like the colors and shapes varied for the same flavor but my memory is dim now about that detail. Sadly, I cannot find the genuine old-fashioned Christmas mix, can’t remember the last time. There are those who label their candy as being that but they are always a disappointment. They are just sugar and food coloring.

    Along about now we may buy some sanded drops if we can find them. We like clove and cinnamon best. Even those are hard to find. Th e Mennonite stores in east TN have them but that’s a ways from here.

  • Reply
    December 13, 2021 at 8:40 am

    Tipper, I tried your praline recipe a few years ago and must admit it was the best! Old fashion peanut butter fudge is the candy I usually make at Christmas. Mom loved horehound braided stick candy known as Virginia Beauty. She bought loose sticks at a little store a few miles from our house and brought fifty cents worth home in a small paper bag to put in our stockings on Christmas Eve. I used to buy a box when I visited down-home but they have new owners and it is not the same anymore.

  • Reply
    Angelyn McLain
    December 13, 2021 at 8:31 am

    My Grandmother Homan used to always that beautiful ribbon candy at Christmas. Although I would rather have one of her fried apple pies!
    My Mamaw always had peppermint stick. I love how they just melt in your mouth. Papaw always had orange slices. My Mother dipped lots of things in chocolate. That was wonderful too!

  • Reply
    Margie G
    December 13, 2021 at 8:17 am

    Here’s a joke I hope you like. “My daughter just moved to NYC so her daddy called to see if she was coming home for Christmas. She said no because of hectic work and little time off. So I just packed up 10 relatives and we spent Christmas at her place. I know she was surprised and delighted! Next year when her daddy calls about her coming home for Christmas, I bet she will be headed home before we hang up the phone!!!!”

  • Reply
    Margie G
    December 13, 2021 at 8:11 am

    I like making rock candy. The crowd pleasing flavor seems to be cinnamon but I like Pina colada myself. I need a friend to help because it’s a 2 man job. I like to think of myself as a BReaking BAd (Walt and Jesse) mom of hard candy making. Gee, I miss that show… I like making double decker fudge which is half peanut butter and half chocolate. I like to make peanut butter balls too. Did you say stick candy???? I am running low on peppermint sticks right now and need more… lol. I love the head clearing, clean scent of peppermint so much I’m growing my own. It’s there in my yard, but I didn’t use any to cook with. I also have catmint (which every cat that stops by munches on) and spearmint too. I can’t eat sugar like I used to. Last night I ate 2 tiny chocolates and my belly hurt… lol

  • Reply
    Sharon Cole
    December 13, 2021 at 8:02 am

    I remember my Daddy always bought a box of chocolate covered cherries. After Christmas when they were discounted – he would stock up! I always liked the filled hard candy. Take care and God bless!

    • Reply
      December 13, 2021 at 1:45 pm

      Well, Sharon, you beat me to it! 🙂

      It seems I always got a box of chocolate covered cherries from someone at Christmas, and a ‘book’ of LiveSavers.

      I can remember buying a pound box of chocolate covered cherries at Eckerd’s on Fayetteville Street (Raleigh) for $.50 plus 2 cents tax (back in the ’50s).

  • Reply
    December 13, 2021 at 7:53 am

    I really liked my mother=in law’s million dollar fudge with black walnuts. It was made with chocolate and marshmellow cream. She also made the old fashioned peanut butter fudge which was good.

  • Reply
    Lori Hughes
    December 13, 2021 at 7:52 am

    I used to make candies when my family was young. These days it’s just the 2 of us and we haven’t seen any of our 4 kids in a very long time. So I no longer make many goodies, just my fruitcake. I did order 4 pounds of fudge as a surprise so that will be our Christmas candy this year!! Thank you for sharing Tipper.

    • Reply
      December 15, 2021 at 3:00 pm

      My mom was the candy maker for the family and also my dad’s coworkers. She made: coconut bonbons, peanut brittle, English toffee, divinity, fudge, and several others. Her sister, was the cookie baker of the family. Mama is long gone and no one else makes candy. I tried some when I was younger, but never got the hang of it and preferred baking anyway.

  • Reply
    Martha D Justice
    December 13, 2021 at 7:15 am

    Candy making day was always my Momma’s favorite thing about Christmas. There were five girls ,no boys in my family. About two weeks before Christmas we would all meet at Momma’s house and the fun would begin. Sometimes we would make candy for three days straight. She wanted to give candy to so many people and all the people looked forward to Aunt Jessie’s candy gifts. How I miss those days with Momma ❤

  • Reply
    December 13, 2021 at 7:05 am

    Our mother always made double batches of fudge from the recipe that was on the back of the marshmallow fluff jar, and my sister and I carry on the tradition. We also continue my late husband’s tradition of making pecan brittle.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 13, 2021 at 6:32 am

    I don’t have a sweet tooth any more. I’m not diabetic or nothing , I’ve just lost my desire for sugar. If I had my druthers I’d sit down with a spoonful of peanut butter.
    I had a friend at work who made some kind of no bake oatmeal cookies every Christmas. I think he made enough for the whole world to have at least one. Beginning about a week before Christmas I would try to avoid him early in the day hoping he ran out before he got to me but inevitably he caught up to me with a bag. Of course he stood there until I tried at least one.”I don’t eat a lot of sweets.” “You got sugar or something?” “No, I just have much of a taste for sugar.” “Well you’ll love this, it ain’t got a lot of sugar!” And he’d stand there until I ate one of those raw cow patty looking things. “Wudden that good?” “Try another one! Here is another bag for you to take home.”
    Sometimes I could cajole someone else into taking them or maybe slip them in their bag when they weren’t looking. If all else failed I have been known to “feed them to the possums” on the way home.After all my wife made candy, a lot of candy, all different kinds. I was her official taste tester. Hers were better. Much better! Yet I still didn’t like candy or no bake Christmas cookies!

    ++If you don’t recognize the phrase “feed the possums” it’ when you roll down your car window and toss something out. Now normally I am not a litterer but sometimes I have no choice. I can justify it by telling myself the possums will eat it. They’ll eat anything.

    • Reply
      Angelyn McLain
      December 13, 2021 at 8:35 am

      I sure wish I didn’t have such a sweet tooth. I especially love a cookie.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 13, 2021 at 6:02 am

    Well, candy is always good but it’s special at Christmas to have Christmas Candy. I love all the candy you make. When I come to your house, I always look on the counter to see if you’ve made any goodies! Goodies are anything you have made, cake, candy, or pies. You and the Deer Hunter both are excellent cooks and I’m qualified to make that assessment because I’m a pretty good cook to…or at least I used to be when I cooked more than I do now.

  • Reply
    Kevin Knight
    December 13, 2021 at 5:39 am

    Being a life long chocolate lover, it is fudge. Today I usually make the 2 ingredient fudge.

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