Last weekend, we told my friend’s six children that we were giving them chicken bones for Christmas. They were horrified. Granted, this wasn’t the first time that week we’d given them something weird in the name of international holiday traditions, so they were suspicious.* If you told a group of children in New Brunswick the same thing, I imagine they’d be delighted. So for the Third Day of Imported Christmas, we’re eating Chicken Bones.
These bones are actually pink sticks of cinnamon hard candy with a chocolate center that mimics the brittle bone and marrow you find in your roast chicken. These Christmas staples are the invention of Canada’s oldest chocolate and candy shop. Ganong is in Saint Stephen, New Brunswick and has been family owned and operated and producing candy since 1873. Frank Sparhawk, a Ganong chocolatier, created the first chicken bones in 1885 and they’ve been an Atlantic Canadian staple ever since.
Chicken Bones aren’t the only things Ganong pioneered. They also have the distinction of creating the first embossed chocolate, lollipops, candy bar, and heart-shaped boxes (in some cases the first in Canada, in others the first anywhere). Arthur Ganong, who became the company’s president in 1917 and served for 40 years, was famous for eating 2-3 pounds of chocolate per day. So that’s something to aspire to.
For the record, the children loved the Chicken Bones, and so do we. If you come to our house around Christmas, we’ll definitely have a bowl of them.
*We gave them Dutch licorice for Sinterklaas day. The four year old made amazing faces and then spit the licorice coin across the kitchen. Worth every penny.
Twelve Days of Imported Christmas
- The First Day: Sfincione—Sicily’s Christmas Pizza
- The Second Day: Pavuchky—Ukraine’s 8-Legged Decorators
- The Third Day: Chicken Bones—New Brunswick’s Crunchy Christmas Treat
- The Fourth Day: Advent Wreath—Germany’s Candlelit Countdown
- The Fifth Day: Julbord—Sweden’s Christmas Feast
- The Sixth Day: Mince Pies—England’s Medieval Advent Treat