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July 24, 2021



As the Village Collector's "Christmas in July" celebration

winds down, I'd like to share a "Christmas Smile" that

could last until December 25th.

What better way to create "Christmas Smiles"

than with that popular icon of Christmas,


OK gang, grab a comfortable chair,

gather around the virtual punch bowl,

and let's take a look at Peppermint Villaging.







Peppermint is a hybrid mint, a cross between watermint and spearmint. Indigenous to Europe and the Middle East, the plant is now widely spread and cultivated in many regions of the world, and occasionally found in the wild.


Although the genus Mentha comprises more than 25 species, the one in most common use is peppermint. While Western peppermint is derived from Mentha piperita, Chinese peppermint is derived from the fresh leaves of Mentha haplocalyx. This just means there are lots of types of peppermint, plus they are among the oldest herbs used for both culinary and medicinal products.



The leaves and flowering tops are used. They are collected as soon as the flowers begin to open and can be dried. They may be allowed to lie and wilt a little before distillation, or they may be taken directly to the still. The wild form of the plant is less suitable for this purpose, with cultivated plants having been selected for more and better oil content.


Being a hybrid, it is usually sterile, producing no seeds, reproducing and spreading only by its runners. If placed, it can grow almost anywhere.  Peppermint generally grows best in moist, shaded locations, including stream sides and drainage ditches.



For the home gardener, it is often grown in containers to restrict rapid spreading.



In areas outside of its native range (where peppermint was formerly grown for oil) it is often considered invasive, such as in Australia, New Zealand, the Galápagos Islands, and in the Great Lakes region of the United States, noted since 1843.


In 2014, world production of peppermint was 92,296 tons, led by Morocco with 92% and Argentina with 8%. In the United States, Oregon and Washington produce most of the country's peppermint, the leaves of which are processed for the essential oil to produce flavorings mainly for chewing gum and toothpaste.


 Peppermint oil and leaves have a cooling effect when used topically for muscle pain, nerve pain, relief from itching, or as a fragrance.


Peppermint oil has a high concentration of natural pesticides, mainly pulegone. It is known to repel some pest insects, including mosquitos, and has uses in organic gardening. It is also widely used to repel rodents.



While peppermint has lots of uses, the favorite way

to put smiles of Christmas memories on the faces of

us here at TVC World Headquarters is, of course,

eating (or drinking) it in a lot of various forms.

Let's start with the basics -



Stick candy (also called candy stick, barber pole candy, circus stick, or barber pole) is a long, cylindrical variety of hard candy, usually four to seven inches in length and 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter, but in some extraordinary cases up to 14 inches in length and two inches in diameter. 



Stick candy is produced by mixing granulated sugar (and sometimes also corn syrup) with water and a small amount of cream of tartar. The dough is mixed with color and flavoring, then drawn and twisted, producing the characteristic spiral pattern, and finally cut to the proper length and allowed to cool and harden.



Like candy canes, they usually have at least two different colors swirled together in a spiral pattern, resembling a barber's pole. In the 1800s, bright red (and sometimes also bright blue) swirled with white were the most common colors. Although unbent and thicker, it is similar to a candy cane and retains the same red-and-white color scheme.



Stick candy is produced in a wide assortment of flavors, such as root beer, sassafras, horehound, cinnamon, butterscotch, piña colada, peppermint, clove, spearmint, licorice, bubble gum, cotton candy, and wintergreen. There are also varieties containing two different flavors swirled together. It is generally sold by the stick, and traditionally displayed for sale in wide-mouthed glass jars. They were originally sold for a penny each, then a nickel or dime. As of 2008 they more typically sell for 25 cents to 75 cents each, although they are also sold in bulk.   I think they must be $15 each today. :)



Stick candy has been around since at least the fall of year 1837 when it was shown at the Exhibition of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association alongside "lobster candy”. 


It was popular with both children and adults in the U.S. as early as the 1860s, and the selling of this type of candy, particularly during the carnival season in the warmer months, was described as being lucrative. (Makes it perfect to “historically say” it was meant for Christmas in July).



Candy sticks were the subject of an 1885 song called

 "The Candy Stick"


“Oh the candy stick striped like a gay barber’s pole,

Was a luscious delight of my infantile soul,

Ev’ry penny I earn’d in my little palm burn’d,

Till away to the store on the corner I stole,

For the candy stick striped like a gay barber’s pole.”



Wow, that’s still a current wish almost 125 years later!

(Although I expect it would be rare

to find one for a penny today)



Stick candy was also the subject of a poem, from the

1907 collection of Folger McKinsey.


"Stick-Candy Days"

(the first two verses are)


“I want to go back to the stick-candy days,

Before they made bonbons of choc'late and glaze;

I want to go back to the dear little shop

Where the little old lady sold ginger-beer pop,

And made little cookies with raisins, that went

Like lightning because they were two for a cent!


I know the green street where the little shop stood,

And, oh, the stick-candy that tasted so good!

Lemon and wintergreen, cinnamon bar,

Each in its round little, fat little jar—

I see through the glamor of childhood the glint

Of the sassafras, horehound and white peppermint!”


(Oh, YUM! I’ve gained 10 pounds just trying to write this!)




A candy cane is a cane-shaped stick candy often associated with Christmastime, as well as Saint Nicholas Day. It is traditionally white with red stripes and flavored with peppermint, but they also come in a variety of other flavors and colors. While a recipe for straight peppermint candy sticks, white with colored stripes, was published in 1844, the "candy cane" is found in literature in 1866, though no description of color or flavor was provided. The Nursery monthly magazine noted them in association with Christmas in 1874, and the Babyland magazine mentioned canes being hung on Christmas trees in 1882.



A 1901 Christmas Card



A common folkloric story of the origin of candy canes says that in 1670, in Cologne, Germany, the choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral, wishing to remedy the noise caused by children in his church during the Living Crèche tradition of Christmas Eve, asked a local candy maker for some "sugar sticks" for them. In order to justify the practice of giving candy to children during worship services, he asked the candy maker to add a crook to the top of each stick, which would help children remember the shepherds who visited the infant Jesus. From Germany, candy canes spread to other parts of Europe, where they were handed out during plays reenacting the Nativity and the candy cane became associated with Christmastime.






Yes, we all love peppermint. It's hard to

think of Christmas without it somewhere.


A lot of us put candy canes on our Christmas Tree.


Some put LOTS of peppermint on the Yule bush . . .


. . . and others can't get enough!


Most villagers have enjoyed many types of

Christmas peppermint. There's always desert!


And who can resist peppermint bark at Christmas?


The old-fashioned, all-day sucker happily

stretched enjoyment dreams,


. . . and the ribbon version is still a very special treat.


One of my favorite ways to enjoy peppermint is in liquid form.




Oh, my!  Peppermint Martini anyone?


TVC Factoid: Don't let your dog have any.

Most today have Xylitol which is poisonous

to your four-legged munchkins. This is as close

as we let Mickey get to peppermint.





Which leads us to the General Store.

This magical cave of childhood wonders is where

generations discovered their first lick of peppermint.


A general merchant store (also known as general merchandise store, general dealer or village shop) is a rural or small-town store that carries a general line of merchandise. It carries a broad selection of merchandise, sometimes in a small space, where people from the town and surrounding rural areas come to purchase all their general goods. The store carries routine stock and obtains special orders from warehouses. It differs from a convenience store or corner shop in that it will be the main shop for the community rather than a convenient supplement.


This one is just a few miles from TVC.

Country Store or General Store? You decide.  :)



Oh Boy!


The concept of the general store is very old, and although some still exist, there are far fewer than there once were, due to urbanization, urban sprawl, and the relatively recent phenomenon of big-box stores.


Oh, the adventure's about to begin. Nirvana!


General stores were established in the 18th and 19th century in many remote populated places where mobility was limited and a single shop was sufficient to service the entire community. They existed, apart from mainland Europe and Asia, in all European colonies and generally in areas where colonists encroached upon communities that previously did not trade with money. In the colonies, trade in local produce had existed long before official shops were opened. The growing need for imported goods, both from European settlers and the indigenous population, led to the establishment of a network of merchants, and subsequently to the creation of a money economy.


This one's in Australia.


This one is in Pakistan.



General stores and itinerant peddlers dominated in rural America until the coming of the automobile after 1910. Farmers and ranchers depended on general stores that had a limited stock and slow turnover; they made enough profit to stay in operation by selling at high prices. Often farmers would barter butter, cheese, eggs, vegetables or other foods which the merchant would resell. Men did most of the shopping, since the main criterion was credit rather than quality of goods. Indeed, most customers shopped on credit, paying later when crops or cattle were sold; the owner's ability to judge credit worthiness was vital to his success. The store was often a gathering point for local men to chat, pass around the weekly newspaper, and talk politics.



In the South the general store was especially important after the Civil War, as the merchant was one of the few sources of credit available until the cash crops (usually cotton or tobacco) came in. There were few towns and very few cities, so rural general stores and itinerant peddlers were the main sources of supply.




Gray's General Store of Adamsville, Rhode Island was reputed

to be the oldest continually operating general store in the

United States until its closure in 2012.



And so . . . this upside down column has the

"Village" tie-in at the end. And it is . . . fanfare please . . .

Peppermint and The General Store.

In our village, the kindly old merchant is known

by everyone as just "Pops" and he knows each

generation in town as they all found the taste

of Christmas in this hallowed structure-of-joy.


"Pop's Peppermint Barrel"


This Department 56, North Pole Series item is

often a centerpiece, with peppermint candy piled

around it, at parties.  It is #4030716 and was

available from 2013 to 2015. The initial price

was $70 and according to the Village D-Tails,

it is currently still at $70.



. . . and to complete the village, while "Pop's" is

the centerpiece of the food counter, in our display is:


Candy Cane & Peppermint Shop

Also part of the Department 56, North Pole Village Series.

This was included in the "Start a Tradition" gift set of 12,

#56390, released at $85 (now $94) and limited to 1996.


Almost every brand has some kind of a peppermint shop.

Here's a few more examples:



Lemax's Country Store


Holiday Time's Country Store


This was seen in a recent Jim Peters' Column.


Everyone's Happier with Peppermint!

Well . . . Almost Everyone.




I hope this episode has given you a few more stories to

share when you describe what's going on in your display.

Stories always make it more fun, don't you agree? I know

"Pops" does every time we meet at the "Peppermint Barrel".




Happy Christmas in July


C'ya next time

. . . and don't forget to tell your friends.






Another Example of TVC's version of: