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.