From the Super Mario Wiki
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Russ T. mentions that there are rumors that tell that if Mario does "something" for the Candy Canes, one of the Candy Canes will give Mario a reward. This Candy Cane is found on Pleasant Path in the separation of paths near the bridge that leads to the Koopa Bros. Fortress. If Mario walks or runs around this Candy Cane, it will follow Mario with its sight and throw HP Hearts around the area. It also plays the Starman theme when Mario runs around it. In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, there is a Candy Cane in Petal Meadows that will drop a Horsetail if it is hammered ten times. The Candy Canes also appear during battles as minor background elements in both Paper Mario and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door in their respective environments.