Shoppers are finding out this week it's surprisingly hard to pick up candy canes to adorn trees or stuff into stockings on Christmas Eve. The sweet peppermint classics are the latest seasonal favorite to get hit by the 2021 holiday supply crunch. That's right: There's a candy candy shortage.
Money did some digging and found that traditional peppermint candy canes are difficult to buy online right now. Many of the classic candy cane options at online specialty retailers like Candy Warehouse, Just Candy and Spangler Candy are listed as out of stock. The candy cane selections at big-box retailers like Amazon, Target, Walgreens and Walmart are much more limited than usual too.
It's not just regular consumers who are facing availability issues. “We only received half of our candy cane order for the holiday season and sold out almost immediately. We currently have zero in stock,” Mitchell Cohen, owner of Economy Candy in New York City, recently told the New York Post.
Why are there so many holiday shortages?
Candy canes are not the only treat that is more difficult to find than usual this holiday season. There have also been inventory issues with turkeys, cranberry sauce, Christmas trees, beer and wine, cream cheese and even Santa himself. (Santa Claus performers are simultaneously in short supply and in extra high demand this year.)
Snags in the global supply chain and severe labor shortages combined with a huge surge in consumer demand — all exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic — have caused disruptions in stocks of holiday favorites at supermarkets and malls across the country. Manufacturers are struggling to produce enough goods to satisfy their customers, and cargo ships are stuck at crowded ports waiting to unload. Once the goods do leave the ships, there often aren’t enough truck drivers to transport them to warehouses and retail floors.
Of course, not every supply chain disruption should be considered a “shortage.” Christmas trees — while more expensive this year — were still readily available in many places. "Anybody that wants a real tree should be able to get one," the Wisconsin Christmas Tree Producers Association’s Cheryl Nicholson told the Wisconsin State Farmer last month. Prices may be higher than some shoppers would like, but that doesn't mean Christmas trees are sold out.
In the case of candy canes, a weak peppermint harvest may be partly to blame for inventory issues leading up to Christmas 2021. U.S. peppermint production was down some 8.6% in 2020, according to data from the Department of Agriculture. Production has declined roughly 25% since 2011.
Where to buy candy canes before Christmas
If you need to get your hands on a few peppermint candy canes this week, it's worth hitting your local drugstore or supermarket to see if there are any left. If you're shopping online, here are some options we found availability (though there's no telling how long they'll be in stock):
- On Amazon, a pack of three 12-count boxes of Brachs Red and White Peppermint Candy Canes is selling for $13.49 and will arrive by December 24 with expedited shipping.
- At Walmart, a 6-count box of Brachs Giant Peppermint Holiday Candy Canes, is listed for $5 and is eligible for two-day shipping in some areas.
- At Target, boxes of peppermint candy canes are tougher to find available for shipping online, though they are in limited stock in some stores.
At many big retailers, boxes of novelty-flavored candy canes (from Oreo to Hot Tamales candy to Starburst to Funfetti) are more readily available.