No job is all fun, even when you work at a place called the “Candy Palace.”
When you’re in the business of making candy canes at Disneyland, you’d better be prepared for 100-degree heat, exacting craftsmanship and the scrutiny of crowds.
“I’ve been making candy canes at Christmas here for 19 years,” said Chris Thompson, a veteran candy maker for Disneyland. “I didn’t really feel comfortable with it until 10 or 15 years in.”
It’s all worth all the hard work though. It feels like Christmas when the kids press their noses against the glass to watch confectioners knead hot sugar and the biting smell of peppermint fills the air.
Thompson and his colleagues make the candy canes only four times every Christmas season. The five-ounce confections — about as long as a man’s forearm – retail for $9.95, but they sell out almost immediately. This year, the Candy Palace on Disneyland’s Main Street is issuing tickets so park guests can reserve candy canes ahead of time, avoiding the massive lines that mark candy cane day at the Palace every Christmas.
The crowds watching the candy makers through the store’s front window are always five or six deep.
Maybe people are fascinated by the sheer force of will and precision that is organized to create something so superfluous as a piece of candy.
The three-man candy-making operation starts by heating the small kitchen in the Candy Palace to 100 degrees inside — the hot sugar sets fast, so candy makers need the heat to keep it from hardening too soon.
Because the candy is cooked at such a high temperature, it has to be kept soft,” Thompson said.
Gas jets keep a big copper kettle of sugar and corn syrup hot as Thompson, candymaker Brian O’Dell and “hooker” Chris Henderson prepare to handle the sugar.