“Chicken Feed”

Candy Corn…I’m not a fan but a lot of people are. And I have to say, they are THE iconic candy of Halloween. You can even get that plush toy at the bottom left for your kids HERE. Or the one on the right for your dog HERE.

 

Now that Halloween is over, the odds are you have sorted your candy and have some “not my favorite” sitting around the house – that Halloween favorite Candy Corn – loose in bowls, in tiny plastic bags, or in half used bags tucked in the back of the pantry.  You know all about it – that white, orange and yellow treat that’s intriguing to eat, but not quite what your stomach can take.  Seems like all of us like to eat them in stages – bite the white tip, then the orange center, then the yellow bottoms – (silly traditional, much like unscrewing Oreo’s and teeth-scaping the frosting).  At my house we purchase a few bags of these each year to set out in some of Jackie’s favorite Halloween bowls. All I can say is that we only eat them because they are sitting out! After that I will actually silently judge myself….again and again!

Anyway, here is some trivia about this iconic Halloween (and now other holidays) treat.  Special thanks Wikipedia and National Confections Association for the info. Enjoy.

Chicken Feed (Candy Corn as we know it today) has been around for more than 100 years. According to oral history, George Renninger, an employee of the Wunderlee Candy Company, invented the popular confection in the 1880s and Wunderlee became the first to produce the candy. The Goelitz Candy Company (now Jelly Belly Candy Company) started producing the confection around the turn of the century and still produces the popular Halloween candy today.

Candy corn first appeared when America was largely an agrarian society. The tri-color design was considered revolutionary and the public went crazy for it. We don’t know if the fact that so many Americans had farm experience at that time, if urban dwellers found it charming or if it was some combination of the two that made it so popular. Lack of machinery meant that candy corn was only made seasonally, probably gearing up in late August and continuing through the fall. It has remained unchanged for more than 100 years and is a favorite at Halloween.

The taste of candy corn can be described as somewhat polarizing and has been a subject of wide debate.

Originally the candy was made by hand.  Manufacturers first combined sugar, corn syrup, carnauba wax, and water and cooked them to form a slurry. Fondant was added for texture and marshmallows were added to provide a soft bite.  The final mixture was then heated and poured into shaped molds. Three passes, one for each colored section, were required during the pouring process.

In 1900, it was the job of many men to produce candy corn several months of the year.  Sugar, corn syrup and other ingredients were cooked into a slurry in large kettles. Fondant and marshmallow were added to give a smooth texture and bite. The 45 pounds of warm candy was poured into buckets called runners. Men dubbed stringers walked backwards pouring the candy into cornstarch trays imprinted with the kernel shape. Originally, it was delivered by wagon in wooden boxes, tubs and cartons.

The recipe remains basically the same today. The production method, called “corn starch modeling,” likewise remains the same, though tasks initially performed by hand were soon taken over by machines invented for the purpose.

A popular variation called “Indian corn” features a chocolate brown wide end, orange center and pointed white tip, often available around Thanksgiving.  During the Halloween season, blackberry cobbler candy corn can be found in eastern Canada.

Confectioners have introduced additional color variations suited to other holidays.

  • The Christmas variant (sometimes called “Reindeer Corn”) typically has a red end and a green center.
  • the Valentine’s Day variant (sometimes called “Cupid Corn”) typically has a red end and a pink center.
  • In the United States during Independence Day celebrations, corn with a blue end, white center, and red tip (named “Freedom Corn”) can be found at celebratory cook outs and patriotic celebrations.
  • the Easter variant (sometimes called “Bunny Corn”) is typically only a two-color candy and comes with a variety of pastel bases (pink, green, yellow, and purple) with white tips all in one package. In 2014, carrot corn was also introduced for the Easter season, typically being green and orange, and having a carrot cake type flavor.
  • In 2011, there were caramel apple and green apple candy corn variants.
  • In 2013 there were s’mores and pumpkin spice variants.
  • In 2015, birthday cake and “Celebration” candy corn was introduced for the Independence Day season.

The National Confectioners Association estimates that 35 million pounds (over 9000 metric tons) of candy corn are sold annually.

 

 


 

What’s Your Favorite Treat?

Halloween, what a fun time of year. Especially if, like me, you love candy. And nothing says Halloween quite like candy corn. You can eat it, of course but you can also wear them. You can get that hoodie at the top HERE. Or those socks HERE (gotta get me a pair of those).  And a plush candy corn to hug (or let your dog play with) HERE. Check out your favorites. And if you have a few minutes check out these oddly wonderful candy commercials: Sour Patch Kids HERE and HERE. Skittles HERE. And Jolly Ranchers HERE.

It’s that time of year when we venture off to the store to pick our favorite Halloween candy.  Some of us go for a specific item/brand, while others default to the “mixed grab bag” approach.  What seems like a simple task, becomes a PIA (Pain in the @%$) Job! to solve.  I can remember as a kid, with my brothers and sisters, running from house to house, trying to see who got the most goodies. Part of our tradition was to walk very, very, very fast to each home, wait for the stragglers to catch up then yell “TRICK OR TREAT” as loud as we could. Our neighbors came to expect and look forward to our arrival!  We’d come home and sort out our bounty into piles – my favorite was of course (Snickers, followed by Reeses Peanut Butter Cups).  If my siblings were game, we’d horse trade, so I got more of the things I loved.  Mom and Dad made us, or at least tried to keep it fair. I happen to be good at trading!  Jackie and I of course carried on the tradition of yelling “TRICK OR TREAT” with our girls.  I was always amazed that the girls would have to stop back home to empty their pillow cases before continuing on!  We would then just sit back and watch them sort and trade, unfortunately I often was given the leftovers – Taffy (Not my favorite!)

A very good friend of mine sent me this cool map link, showing the candy sales by state – the map for Ohio says M&M’s but newer data says it might be Blow Pops.  Of course, I’m hit with questions … what flavor gum inside, how big, peanut or regular, big or little, ugh.  For all of my goblins out there, I hit the internet, and captured some fun tips about Halloween candy – thx History Channel, People, and CandyStore.comand all the candy sites for the info.  Enjoy, and don’t open those bags until it’s time!!

  • For most American kids, it wouldn’t be Halloween without trick-or-treating for candy; however, that wasn’t always the case. When the custom of trick-or-treating started in the 1930s and early 1940s, children were given everything from homemade cookies and pieces of cake to fruit, nuts, coins and toys.
  • The earliest known reference to “trick or treats”, printed in the November 4, 1927 edition of the Blackie, Alberta Canada Herald, talks of this, “Hallowe’en provided an opportunity for real strenuous fun. No real damage was done except to the temper of some who had to hunt for wagon wheels, gates, wagons, barrels, etc., much of which decorated the front street. The youthful tormentors were at back door and front demanding edible plunder by the word “trick or treat” to which the inmates gladly responded and sent the robbers away rejoicing.”
  • The first Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar was produced in 1900 and Hershey’s Kisses made their debut in 1907. Company founder Milton Hershey was a pioneer in the mass-production of milk chocolate and turned what previously had been a luxury item for the well-to-do into something affordable for average Americans. In the early 1900s, he also built an entire town, Hershey, Pennsylvania, around his chocolate factory.
  • In the 1950s, candy manufacturers began to get in on the act and promote their products for Halloween, and as trick-or-treating became more popular, candy was increasingly regarded as an affordable, convenient offering.
  • The Kit Kat bar was first sold in England in 1935 as a Rowntree’s Chocolate Crisp and in 1937 was rechristened the Kit Kat Chocolate Crisp. The name is said to be derived from a London literary and political group, the Kit-Cat (or Kit Kat) club, established in the late 17th century. The group’s moniker is thought to be an abbreviation of the name of the man who owned the shop where the group originally gathered. Since 1988, the brand has been owned by Nestle, maker of another perennial trick-or-treat favorite, the Nestle Crunch bar, which debuted in the late 1930s.
  • In 1917, Harry Burnett Reese moved to Hershey, where he was employed as a dairyman for the chocolate company and later worked at its factory. Inspired by Milton Hershey’s success, Reese, who eventually had 16 children, began making candies in his basement. In the mid-1920s, he built a factory of his own and produced an assortment of candies, including peanut butter cups, which he invented in 1928 and made with Hershey’s chocolate. During World War II, a shortage of ingredients led Reese to pull the plug on his other candies and focus on his most popular product, peanut butter cups. In 1963, Hershey acquired the H.B Reese Candy Company.
  • Today, America spends about $2.7 billion dollars on candy.  When it comes to Halloween candy, a number of the most popular brands are enduring classics. Here is a link to a fun interactive map with detailed listings by state.
  • In 1923, a struggling, Minnesota-born candy maker, Frank Mars, launched the Milky Way bar, which became a best-seller. In 1930, he introduced the Snickers bar, reportedly named for his favorite horse, followed in 1932 by the 3 Musketeers bar. Frank’s son Forrest eventually joined the company, only to leave after a falling out with his father. Forrest Mars relocated to England, where he created the Mars bar in the early 1930s. In 1941, he launched M&Ms. Mars anticipated that World War II would produce a cocoa shortage, so he partnered with Bruce Murrie, son of a Hershey executive, in order to have access to a sufficient supply of ingredients; the candy’s name stands for Mars and Murrie.
  • No Halloween would be complete without candy corn, which was invented in the 1880s by George Renninger of the Wunderle Candy Company of Philadelphia. Other companies went on to produce their own versions of the tricolor treat, none longer than the Goelitz Confectionery Company (now the Jelly Belly Candy Co.), which has been doing so since 1898.

Here is a “top selling” candy list by State and links to their history:

  1. Candy Corn:  Alabama, Idaho, Michigan, New Mexico, Rhode Island, South Carolina
  2. Twix:  Alaska
  3. Snickers:  Arizona, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Virginia
  4. Jolly Ranchers:  Arkansas
  5. M&Ms: California, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, District of Columbia
  6. Milky Way:  Colorado, Maryland, Missouri, Vermont
  7. Almond Joy:  Connecticut
  8. Life Savers:  Delaware
  9. Skittles:  Florida, Hawaii, New Jersey
  10. Swedish Fish:  Georgia
  11. Sour Patch Kids:  Illinois, Maine, Nebraska, New York, Massachusetts
  12. Hot Tamales:  Indiana, North Dakota
  13. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups:  Iowa, Kansas, Oregon, Wyoming
  14. Tootsie Pops:  Kentucky, Minnesota, Tennessee, Washington
  15. Lemonheads:  Louisiana
  16. 3 Musketeers:  Mississippi
  17. Double Bubble Gum:  Montana
  18. Hershey Kisses:  Nevada
  19. Blow Pops:  Ohio, West Virginia
  20. Starburst:  South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin
  21. Jolly Ranchers:  Utah