Sugar-based candy was not widely available or affordable prior to the industrial revolution.
Around the mid 1800’s mass-produced hard candy debuted, and much of it was striped.
The fabric is named for this candy, which we now know as, “Old Fashioned” or “Christmas” candy. But the fabric pattern is perhaps better known today for its association with volunteer nurses known as Candy Stripers. The first Candy Stripers were a class of American high school girls who served as volunteer nurses at a local hospital for a class project. The students made their nursing uniforms from red and white candy stripe fabric donated by their teacher.
Candy stripe is a solid stripe not to be mistaken for ticking stripe in which there is a pattern in the stripes or awning stripe which is much larger in scale. Like ticking stripe, though, these narrow-striped fabrics, especially the traditional red/pink stripe are often used in shabby chic and cottage decor.