Chocolate Gelt is a delicious Hanukkah tradition with a long history. Around the 17th century in the shtetls of Eastern Europe, families would give Hanukkah gelt (which was actual money, not chocolate) to their butcher, baker, teacher, or others who provided services for their family as an end of the year thank you. By the end of the 19th Century, many had moved away from the shtetls and the tradition morphed into giving the gelt to your children. By the mid-20th century, the gelt had turned into the chocolate coins we know and love today.
The Candy Cane started its journey to holiday staple about 250 years ago as a straight, white, sugar stick in Germany. A popular story says that a choirmaster, in 1670, at the Cologne Cathedral gave these treats to the children to keep them quiet during the long Christmas nativity service. To remind them of the reason they were there, he shaped them like a shepherd’s crook to remind them of the shepherds that visited baby Jesus on the first Christmas. The iconic red stripe and peppermint flavor was added later, around 1900.