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Where Do Candy Canes Come From?

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Where Do Candy Canes Come From?

Where Do Candy Canes Come From?

Where Do Candy Canes Come From?

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Jerry Rowley began working at Logan's 33 years ago. Now he owns the shop with his wife. Steve Proffitt, NPR hide caption

toggle caption Steve Proffitt, NPR

Jerry Rowley began working at Logan's 33 years ago. Now he owns the shop with his wife.

Steve Proffitt, NPR

Craving Candy Canes?

If you want to try Logan's hand-made treats, you'll have to go directly to the source. Willy Wonka never had a Web site, and neither does Jerry Rowley.

Logan's Candies

125 W. B Street

Ontario, CA 91762

909-984-5410

Jerry Rowley and his little crew will make between 70,000 and 80,000 canes this holiday season. Steve Proffitt, NPR hide caption

toggle caption Steve Proffitt, NPR

Jerry Rowley and his little crew will make between 70,000 and 80,000 canes this holiday season.

Steve Proffitt, NPR

Making candy canes the classic way entails tossing and twisting a sweet, gooey, 20-pound glob. Steve Proffitt, NPR hide caption

toggle caption Steve Proffitt, NPR

Making candy canes the classic way entails tossing and twisting a sweet, gooey, 20-pound glob.

Steve Proffitt, NPR

In Ontario, Calif., about an hour east of Los Angeles, a little candy store is keeping an old Christmas tradition alive.

What looks like a typical local candy shop from the outside, on a side street near Ontario's downtown, is far from typical: This season, Logan's will hand-make between 70,000 and 80,000 canes.

Visiting the shop is a bit like walking into a Willy Wonka factory. Logan's "Mr. Wonka" is a cheery, rosy-cheeked man named Jerry Rowley. Now in his 40s, and the owner of the shop, he has been making candy canes since age 12. During the holiday season, children and their families flock to his factory to watch, mesmerized, as Rowley turns sugary putty into perfect canes.

His magical process begins with a big vat of what looks like yellow lava, bubbling on an ancient cookstove. He works the yellow mass, folding the raw candy with a knife so that it cools uniformly, before shaping it into two bundles. After deciding which will be white and which will be red, he pours a tiny dab of peppermint flavoring into the larger, yellow glob.

Then comes the tricky part: Jerry carefully picks up the large, hot, yellow blob — it weighs nearly 20 pounds and is the size of a baked ham — and drops it onto a hook attached to the wall.

"It's not easy. It's pretty heavy and thick at this point," he says, watching the candy stretch as it falls. He repeats the motion — dropping and stretching the sweet, gooey candy.

Having pulled it, Rowley makes a block of the white candy. He lays stripes of red on two sides of it, then rolls and twists it.

Rowley's wife Susie demonstrates how to bend the candy into a colorful cane to finish it, and soon they've filled a long table with candy canes. Fifty canes down — and thousands to go.

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