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Disneyland Article
Most Seasoned Candy Cane Maker Spills All His Sweet Secrets

Candy Palace
Tess Koman
December 19, 2019
December 27, 2019
You're familiar with all of Disney World's most fabulous holiday offerings, of course, but what do you know of Disneyland's? Their hand-made, fantastically huge candy canes have had a niche cult following since they were first introduced 51 years ago, it turns out, and that's in part to longtime "Disneyland Candy God" Chris Thompson.

In his 30 holiday seasons with Disney, Chris has made countless hand-pulled treats across the Candy Palace, Trolley Treats, and more. He spoke to Delish recently about his candy career, what's still magical for him to make, and how candy canes are a trickier business than they seem.

Tell me about your trajectory with Disney. Where were you that first season with the company?

I was actually in restaurants for eight years, so I have some food background. I switched over to candy after that. I learned slowly and gradually in the beginning, and I’ve just been getting better and better at it and learning more and more since then.

Had you ever had a particular interest in candy at that time?

Well, there was a family story that I had it in my blood. My grandmother, when she was a child, worked in a store with her father and her uncle and she sold candy. She also made candy for all us kids when we were growing up, so the joke was that candy-making really was in my blood. But really, I just always thought it looked like fun!

Disney makes it a point to mix up most of their offerings, but these candy canes remain the same year after year. Why do you think that is?

It's pretty incredible—people keep coming back and wanting them. Every single year, there’s just such high demand for hand-made candy canes. Why would we ever stop making them?

What's a day in your life like during peak holiday season?

Well, we come in very early and get the kitchen nice and hot soon after I get there.

How hot?

In our kitchen at the Candy Palace in Disneyland, it gets up to around 85 or 90 degrees or so. It goes higher at Trolley Treats at Disney California Adventure, there it gets hotter. Ninety-plus degrees is a good place to have it [in order to make candy canes]. Sometimes, it’s not easy to work in, though!

OK, so you're hand-pulling candy in a 90-degree kitchen. What's happening in the meantime? People are already lining up to get their wristbands. [Ed note: Per Disney, "Wristbands will be distributed accordingly at park opening and they entitle the bearer to purchase one candy cane at designated location."] The three people in the kitchen just keep going and going while people outside go crazy! I get it, though. The time and effort—two hours plus in every batch—that hot room, we’re really creating something great for people to enjoy.

For anyone who doesn’t know about the candy cane-making process, what might be more complicated than people think?

Oh, there’s probably a lot of things that would surprise people! When we first pour [the candy mixture] out on the table, it’s almost a clear, amber-colored kind of liquid. Pulling it out of the hook so that it sort of looks like taffy always baffles people—that actually is where you put the white color into it, not before then.

What part of that process is cathartic or exciting to you still?

[Laughs] It’s a lot of physical effort, but it’s a lot of fun! The fact that you’re a craftsman of sorts, that you’re creating a well-designed piece of candy, it’s almost like artwork sometimes. That's pretty awesome.
Restaurants Referenced

Candy Palace

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