Christmas candy is one of the best parts of the holidays. Sure, Halloween and Easter candy have their place, but Christmas candy is special. Digging into your stocking on Christmas morning and finding a chocolate Santa and candy canes (and then snacking on them before breakfast) is a time-honored holiday tradition. Even if you're technically a grown-up, you can still get a little bit of holiday magic by finding your favorite old-fashioned Christmas candy in your stocking. Or buying it before the holiday because you're an adult now and can eat candy for dinner if you want to.
When you're ready to stock up on holiday candy, it's always good to do a mix of candy you buy from the store and candy you make at home. Making your own Christmas candy isn't difficult, especially when it's a family activity, and those memories are really the best part of the holiday season.
Here are some of our favorite old fashioned Christmas candy, most of which you can still buy or make today.
Divinity is a Southern specialty, a recipe you'll find in church and Junior League cookbooks across the region. This old fashioned candy is also a finicky candy that does not come together well in humidity, which may be why it's a holiday favorite since any other time of the year in the South is almost guaranteed to be humid. The nougat-like confection is made with egg whites, corn syrup and sugar, and most cooks will stir in pecans. It's a little crispy on the outside and soft on the inside and tastes like a bite of holiday sweetness.
Ribbon candy is exactly what it sounds like. Long strips of hard candy are gathered up in shiny folds that look exactly like a ribbon. At Christmas, you can find it in bright red and green.
If you've never made a gumdrop Christmas tree, you're missing out. It's a fun craft for kids of all ages, plus you've got old-fashioned Christmas candy to snack on while you're creating your gumdrop trees. Gumdrops are a fruit-flavored jelly candy coated in sugar. Some of them were spicy gum drops, with a kind of cinnamon taste. Want to try making your own gumdrop tree? Here are instructions for this easy, fun holiday project.
You can buy a roll of Lifesavers anytime, but Christmas was when you got the special "book" of Lifesavers candy. The cardboard gift box opened up to reveal 10 rolls of Lifesavers and it was a sweet treat (at some point, the book became six rolls, plus games and a short story inside the box).
Hard Candy Mix
Some kind of hard candy Christmas mix filled candy dishes across the United States from Thanksgiving to New Years and you had to be fast to get your favorite before anyone else did. The most popular hard candy mixes were either from two big candy companies. The Brachs holiday mix included cut rock hard candy, the little round candy pieces in vibrant colors with a shape in the middle, and filled hard candy, like the filled raspberries which were hard candy shaped like a raspberry on the outside but with a soft center.
The Washburn candy mix included peppermint candy cane balls, cinnamon balls, root beer barrel candy (and wasn't that the best?) and butterscotch balls. You can still buy this old fashioned Christmas candy today.
Marshmallow Christmas Trees
Of course, there's always plenty of chocolate candy at the holidays, but chocolate-covered marshmallow Christmas trees are right up there with chocolate Santas. Most of them are just chocolate-covered marshmallows, but sometimes you might also get one with a layer of caramel in it. You can make this sweet treats at home with this recipe.
Cinnamon Rock Candy
This cinnamon-flavored candy is bright red and dusted with powdered sugar. It's spicy-sweet and easy to make at home, where you can also add a stick to turn it into a lollipop. Here's a good recipe to try.
Marzipan Christmas Candy
Marzipan is an almond paste that can easily be shaped. For the holidays, especially in certain parts of Europe, marzipan fruits are a popular holiday tradition. In fact, marzipan candy is about as retro as it gets, with a version of the candy paste being served at holiday feasts in Tudor England. Marzipan is also gluten-free (as it's just almonds and sugar) and dairy-free, so it's a good alternative for some people.
Of course, you can make fudge any time of year. But there's something about Christmas fudge that makes it special. Maybe it's because fudge is so easy to make, it's a perfect project to do with the kids over holiday break. You can make white chocolate, dark chocolate, peanut butter, or any flavor you like! One way to make it a holiday treat is to make chocolate peppermint fudge. Make a batch of chocolate fudge and sprinkle crushed candy canes on top while the fudge is setting for a festive treat.
Toffee, Brittle and Taffy
Toffee, nut brittle, and taffy are old-fashioned Christmas candies you can easily make at home. They start off the same basic way, by boiling sugar and butter together. Depending on which you're making, you might use brown sugar, white sugar, or corn syrup. You might also add cream, flavoring, milk chocolate or nuts. Toffee and brittle are hard candies that are typically poured out onto a flat surface and cooled then broken up into pieces. Taffy is typically pulled or shaped as it cools, then becomes soft and chewy.