Candy Cane Shortages Are Next On The List For 2021. Here's Why

You might have a hard time imagining the holidays without candy canes. This confection has gone hand-in-hand with Christmas ever since a German choirmaster supposedly invented the candy back in 1670 as a way to keep his children's choir quiet through mass, per CBC. The choirmaster asked a local candy maker to bend sugar sticks into the shape of shepherd crooks, and this original confection was pure white and didn't contain any peppermint flavor. Today, of course, candy canes are known for their tingly taste and red and white stripes.

This holiday season, according to Insider, businesses are reporting a shortage of candy canes as a result of supply chain strain and limited raw materials. The issues stem back to a peppermint shortage. Currently, the United States produces 70% of the world's supply of peppermint oil, but production has significantly fallen over the past years. Combine this fact with other pandemic-related supply issues, and the result is very few candy canes hitting the market — as well as a diminished amount of other peppermint-flavored foods, like mint coffee. This may spell disappointment for anyone looking to create peppermint-decorated gingerbread houses, as stores that have stocked this candy for decades have suddenly come up empty-handed.

When will stores restock candy canes?

Why has peppermint production decreased in recent years? One reason, according to Food & Wine, is because peppermint crops have fallen victim to a particularly bad fungal disease. Farmers are unable to kill it with fungicide, which leaves the disease free to destroy entire fields of mint. One study even called it one of the most dangerous mint diseases in the U.S.

Thanks to crop diseases and the decreased production of peppermint across the U.S., expect to have a harder time getting your hands on peppermint candy canes this holiday season. The candy cane shortage appears to have hit some regions harder than others; according to CBS, one major candy retailer in Pittsburgh hasn't felt the peppermint pressure that other retailers have, and it has been able to keep candy canes in stock. If your local store is out of peppermint candies, though, USA Today recommends buying fruit-flavored candy canes instead of minty ones. Let's hope that these peppermint supply issues resolve soon — otherwise, we might see the return of the original, all-white sugar candy cane of 1670.