Fact or Fiction: The Legend of the Candy Cane

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What's the real deal with candy canes? I will be the first to admit that I have a love for words and all things warm, cute and fuzzy.  So I admit, we have the story book on our bookshelf and we have also gifted our handmade candy cane hearts attached to "The Legend of the Candy Cane".  Yes, this is a legend, a story that is circulated, shared and retold by many and perceived to be loosely based on an occurrence that is never really substantiated yet never really disputed. Is "The Legend of the Candy Cane" fact or fiction? 
                                          
The Legend of the Candy Cane

A candy maker in Indiana wanted to make a candy that would help us remember who Christmas is really about. So he made a Christmas Candy Cane. He incorporated several symbols for the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus Christ.
He began with a stick of pure white, hard candy. White to symbolize the virgin birth and sinless nature of Jesus. Hard candy to symbolize the solid rock, the foundation of the Church, and firmness of the promises of God.
The candy maker made the candy in the form of a "J" to represent the name of Jesus. It also represented the staff of the "Good Shepherd".
The candy maker then included red stripes. He used three small stripes and a large red stripe to represent the suffering Christ endured at the end of his life.
The candy became known as a Candy Cane - a decoration seen at Christmas time. The meaning has faded, but still gives joy to children young and old, whom Jesus loves and treasures.

Well, according to snopes.com, the closest validation for this beloved legend can come from this story:
"Tradition has it that some of these candies were put to use in Cologne Cathedral about 1670 while restless youngsters were attending ceremonies around the living creche. To keep them quiet, the choirmaster persuaded craftsmen to make sticks of candy bent at the end to represent shepherds' crooks, then he passed them out to boys and girls who came to the cathedral."
 This account of the tradition does not give validation to  the origin of "The Legend of the Candy Cane," however it is a beautifully depicted and creative interpretation of the story and I appreciate the artistic merit. 

Here's a fact about candy canes, not only is December 26th my second favorite shopping day, but it is also National Candy Cane Day in the United States. Now, is it proper etiquette to eat the hook or the stem of the candy cane first?