Peppermint Nostalgia

Candy canes are as synonymous with the Christmas holidays as Christmas trees, stockings, and Santa Claus.  But you’re not likely to find those crook-necked confections in my household.  No, when I buy peppermint it has to be King Leo stick candy.

Originally made by the Standard Candy Company in Nashville, TN, King Leo has been a regional favorite for over 100 years.  Indeed it has been a tradition in my family for several generations.  Those trademark blue tins with the lion were permanent fixtures in the homes of my grandparents and great-grandparents–not just during the holiday season, but year round.

One time, when I was in elementary school, I found a King Leo tin in my grandparents’s garage.  Anticipating that soft, chalky peppermint perfection, my mouth watered as I pried open the lid.  Imagine my disappointment when I found nuts and bolts (of the metal variety, not the edible variety) instead.  Oh well, at least they repurposed the container.

My fondest memory associated with King Leo is that a tin was always within arm’s reach of my great-grandfather.  He smelled of peppermint and chewing tobacco, and every time I see that familiar logo I recall my sweet Granddaddy.

If you happen to see King Leo when you’re out and about this holiday season, consider giving it a try.  Those soft sticks are great for garnishing baked goods, using as stir sticks in hot chocolate, or simply on their own.

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5 Comments

  1. Love this! I’ll look for them, next time I’m at the store. They sound awesome, and it’s nice to have a memory like that. One of the silly things my family does is a chocolate tin. In it, goes peanut butter cups, peppermint patties, and hershey’s kisses. I’ve got all the decorations downstairs, and I’m going to deck the halls this weekend! 🙂

    Thanks for sharing this, B!

    Reply
    • Mmm . . . chocolate. You just gave me an idea – King Leo sticks dipped in dark chocolate!

      Let me know if you find them and try them. Our decorating is almost complete. The tree will be trimmed this weekend. Have fun decking your halls! 🙂

      Reply
  2. I love reading that King Leo is a Tenn-based company and these candies do, indeed, carry nostalgic meaning for folks! Saw them in the grocery and wondered if they were a classic candy or simply new trying to be old, as so often is the case anymore. Also love the smell of tobacco and peppermint. One of good times, to be sure.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Amanda! I’m glad this was insightful! 🙂 King Leo is no longer made by the Standard Candy Co. (makers of Goo Goo Clusters). A company (in CA, I believe) picked up the label and the original recipe. I found that out when I wrote this post. I’m glad King Leo is still around!

      Reply
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