Growing up, my family was small. I had my mom, my dad and one sister. I only had one set of grandparents, who lived far away, so holidays were pretty low-key. But my mom always made sure that Christmas was full of super fun activities and traditions. We always made Candy Bar Trains growing up. A few years ago I decided I wanted to share this candy train craft with my kids too. So I invited my mom over to help me make them with us!
Updated October, 2018. I always write about stuff I love and think you'll like too. This post contains affiliate partnerships, so I may get a share of the revenue from your purchase. I’m saving that revenue to put my kids through college. But sometimes I go to Starbucks…
Christmas Candy Trains are Awesome
I have a few really fun holiday traditions that mean a lot to me. You know, like wine cake and such. Because cake with wine is VERY exciting. And today I'm sharing these awesome candy bar trains! These are the PERFECT alternative to gingerbread houses. Gingerbread houses can be so hard!!! Unless you glue gun the walls together, they often collapse and seem a bit fragile. But these trains are a little bit easier and such a fun idea for families to do together during the holidays.
When I told my mom that I wanted to do a post on her candy trains, she found these written instructions and supply list. So I started gathering the materials and then invited my mom over to help. It was so fun to get to make these with her again after all these years. And even more fun that my kids could make them too!
Supply List for Making a Candy Bar Train
We got everything together and did a little mock-up before starting gluing things together with the royal icing. In doing so, we learned that candy has changed a bit since we first made these. Some things are larger and some things are smaller. Feel free to use whatever candies you think are best and please you, aesthetically.
Also, she used to make a train track out of thin black licorice laces. I couldn't find those anywhere before we started! I also had a hard time finding rolls of Lifesavers (which we didn't end up using anyway) and the larger Tootsie Rolls which made perfect tree logs. I feel like you can't go wrong by buying the candy that looks fun to you and then see what you come up with. And if you have kids, the extra candy certainly isn't going to go to waste…
Candy to Buy for your “Chew Chew” Train, get it?
Large Snickers bars for the train cars (so 3 full-size Snickers bars for the full train I made)
Fun Size Snickers bar for the front car
14 Peppermint candies for the wheels (note: the first car has 2 extra wheels – and they probably aren't called wheels are they…)
1 gummy fruit slice for the corn catcher at the front of the train
1 JUJU Bee for the light on the very front of the train
1 Gum Drop for the front train car
1 Lifesaver and 1 Rolo for the smoke stack on the first train car
Thin licorice laces to connect the train cars. Can also be used for the train tracks if you decide to add them to your cake board (I am far too lazy for that!)
14 M&M's for decoration on the wheels
Several Tootsie Rolls for the log car. The full size works best but you can also stack the Midgees if you can't find the regular ones.
White edible glitter flakes for snow
*A note about the candy. I linked to these on Amazon so you could see the exact candies I am talking about. You can find smaller bags of the items at CVS and they often have buy one get one 50% off deals. Buying on Amazon is great if you are buying enough for a church group or big party, but CVS is great for buying supplies for making a handful of trains!
Other Items You'll Need
Rectangle cake boards are great because you can build the train right on them, they are sturdy but they are also inexpensive and you can throw them away when done.
Assorted Christmas themed plastic Miniatures (if you can find vintage ones they are SO much cuter! Check for those on Etsy!)
Tweezers might also come in handy (if you want to be all type-a about it)
How to Make a Candy Train
We made (I say we, but really my mom made it) royal icing which would act as the glue to hold the train together. We probably could have used a little less of the icing but we wanted to make sure that things stuck really well.
A few years ago my mom gave me her tin of vintage miniatures that she used for her trains. There are so many memories in that tin! It was awesome to go through and remember all the old plastic figures and show them to my kids. My mom used to decorate cakes when we were little, like good enough to be on a Netflix show good. These miniatures reminded me of all those fun things she used to make like these panoramic sugar eggs.
This Candy Train Craft is awesome!
Our second train car holds a bunch of presents and toys and the final car is the log car. It dawned on me that it would have probably looked a little bit more like logs if we stacked another row in the center and on top of the bottom row. But it's been probably 30 years since we've seen one of these trains in person so…we forgot. I just love how it came out!
And of course, we added edible glitter to have even more of a snow-like look although it is pretty hard to see. Like gingerbread houses, these are edible, but since all of the candy has been manhandled I wouldn't recommend eating them. My kids asked so incessantly that I finally said they could eat the candy train cars they made.
Turns out all the different flavors of candy don't taste that great together. So they stopped eating them instead of picking the candy off individually…dummies. (Yes I just called my kids dummies. But as a joke. That is kind of ironic. Especially since my 3rd grader had to go ask his teacher how to do one of his homework math problems since I couldn't figure it out…)
When my youngest son got home from school he skipped lunch (truth be told he had candy for lunch) to make his candy bar train. He was so excited! He's almost 6 and this was really easy for him. Where we had used a piping bag and decorating tip, we gave him a little paintbrush to use with the royal icing and it worked really well. In hindsight, we probably would have had a cleaner look if we had used the paintbrush ourselves.
This would be a super fun idea for a family holiday party. I had only bought 6 of the large candy bars but the candy used to decorate was very plentiful. I could have made a ton of train cars by just picking up a few more Snickers bars, which is what we've always used. I guess you could use a different kind. But you would ruin Christmas…so…
We ended up having a last-minute playdate after school the day we made these so my older son and his friend decided to make them too. Turns out, with a little imagination, your train car can be a sports car. And a new tradition is born.
If you make one be sure share it with me on Instagram!!!! Tag me at @cupcakescutlery and use the #cupcakesandcandytrains
Aren't you in love with these candy trains?! You may also like these holiday posts as well: