ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A supply chain problem that affected the candy cane industry in 2021 hasn’t been completely remedied.

That means Stateline residents who count on the red and white confectionery staple to help them spread holiday cheer may still find them hard to come by at some stores. 

Dubbed the “Great Candy Cane Crisis of 2021” by the New York Post, last year’s situation was caused in part by a fungus called verticillium wilt, which wiped out a significant number of mint fields. The crisis, according to a website called Candy Favorites, has played a major role in a 25-percent reduction in peppermint oil, a key ingredient in candy canes.

Supply chain hiccups sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic are also still being cited by some merchants. Chief among them are local shop owners who say they were forced to work extra hard to make sure they have plenty of candy canes to go around this holiday season.

“Candy doesn’t expire as soon as people think it does,” said Brandy Gardner, owner of Brandy’s Candies in Rockford. “We were able to have some in stock all year round. Candy canes is one of our bestsellers, especially around this time.”

Gardner said manufacturers are now creating more varieties of candy canes to make up the difference and to appease those who may want more than traditional peppermint sweets. 

“They’re actually changing flavors,” she said. “They’re doing different textures and using their flavor for different kinds of candies.” 

Experts say supply chain and production issues in the candy industry could linger for years. According to the National Confectioners Association, the nearly 60,000 people directly employed by candy companies rely on approximately 700,000 others in industries like agriculture, retail and transportation, which are all still experiencing labor and other disruptions.

Brandy’s Candies is at 113 N. Rockton Ave.