Candy Corn

Candy Corn

It isn’t always easy to get kids to eat their vegetables, but create a faux candy version and they will eat it by the bushel. Such is the case of candy corn, perhaps the most enduring Halloween confection of all time. The tri-colored kernels of sugar date back well over a century, and in recent years, have received a few makeovers to colorfully coordinate with other popular holidays. But it is the traditional original version that endures, to the tune of 20 million pounds of stuff sold each year – enough that, if each kernel were laid end to end, would supposedly wrap around the earth four times. That’s a lot of corn.

To trace the origins of candy corn, one must travel back to the 1880s, when candy was solely a handmade endeavor. The inventor is unknown, but what is clear is that the Wuderle Candy Company in Philadelphia began mass-producing the product in 1898. While they are no longer in business, another company in Cincinnati, the Goelitz Confectionery Company started making candy corn the same year and continues to produce it to this day. A decade later, Brach’s Confections in Chicago also jumped on the candy corn bandwagon and today is the largest producer of the confection.

So what goes into candy corn to give it its delectable flavor? Plenty of sugar, honey and, of course, corn syrup. These ingredients are cooked into a slurry, then marshmallow and fondant are added to give them their unique soft consistency. Pouring the goo into little corn shaped molds is a three-step process to create the tri-colored appearance of yellow on top, an orange center and a little white tip. While this was all done by hand for decades, machines now handle the duties, but the process itself hasn’t really changed in over a century.

Traditionally, candy corn has always been hauled out by the bushel during Halloween, but that doesn’t mean that other holidays weren’t deserving of a few of these candy kernels as well. A white, orange and brown version, named Indian Corn comes out around Thanksgiving each year. A green, white and red version, dubbed Reindeer Corn serves to give people their fix during the Christmas holidays. And more recently, pink, red and white Cupid Corn has been released during Valentine’s Day, as well as pastel Bunny Corn for Easter. Apparently, waiting for Halloween to roll around each year was a little too much for candy corn loyalists.

Strangely enough, other vegetables were considered in the early days, following the success of corn. Candy turnips, for example, were once tried, but failed miserably. Apparently kids have their limits as to which vegetable replicas they will eat by the fistful. So for those waiting for candy brussel sprouts, you’ll just have to keep waiting. Meanwhile, the rest of us will keep shoveling this sugary confection in our mouths, no matter what holiday we are celebrating.

Are you a candy corn aficionado? Do you count the moments until you can put a bowl of the stuff out with a little less guilt, justifying your actions by claiming that you are just “getting into the holiday spirit”? Or, was it the first thing that got tossed in the trash from your trick-or-treat sack? Share your memories of these confectionery kernels with all of us at Retroland, as we pay tribute to the legacy of candy corn.

11 Responses to “Candy Corn”

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  1. Zoetrope11384EB says:

    I do remember enjoying one of those small boxes of Brach’s candy corn as a kid and wishing that I could have some more when it was empty. I really don’t like candy corn anymore, but at the time, anything like candy corn that had a lot of sugar was good enough for me as a kid.

  2. Timothy1964 says:

    I can take it or leave it, since it’s not my most favorite candy. My father, however, loved candy corn and it wasn’t uncommon for him to have a bag of it, or the “Autumn Mix” (with the pumpkins) on the dining room table this time of year. Also, autumn was always his favorite time of year.

  3. Kapatsos says:

    Love the stuff so my girlfriend is always picking me up a bag of the stuff when she goes shopping.

  4. NostalgiaTV says:

    I love these sweet treats..but I have to cut down on eating this stuff.

  5. Easyreader says:

    Ahhh… Candy Corn. The Vegetable of October!
    Love these a lot but only for awhile. They get old fast.
    However, when topped on frosted Halloween cupcakes…
    MMMMM… mmmmmm…. !!

    As for the Chocolate ones… ech!


  6. Allie Fox says:

    I’ve found Candy Corn to be very polarizing. Many either love or hate it.

    I am in the former group. I love candy corn and always have. When I was about 15 or so my mother got a little Halloween figurine that was scented like Candy Corn and I put it in my room after the holiday was over just so I could get a whiff of its sugary goodness.

    Back in those days when Halloween was over, they packed up the uneaten candy corn, sent it back to the factory (washed it) and repackaged it for next year. You didn’t see it again until Ben Cooper started making an appearence.

  7. tcoria77 says:

    i do not like candy corn, never have, i ate it all the time at school, because it is what everyone brought every year for your halloween party, so it was either eat the candy corn, or eat nothing at i ate the candy corn. another lovely childhood memory.

  8. HardyGirl66 says:

    I liked it as a kid, but I can’t stand it now.

  9. missj2you says:

    Has anyone seen the gourmet candy corn at Target? Strawberry cotton candy, smores, blood orange… I think they are marketing it toward grownups.

  10. Jennifer harris says:

    I don’t like Candy corn.

  11. Cody says:

    Omg… I’m so addicted to this stuff… I can eat 3 or 4 bags with no problem. The only other candy to get devoured like that with me is Cotton candy, and I’m not even going to start on how much sugar and red dye #3 I’ve torn through. Each year at Halloween I still buy this stuff. I’m almost 17, so too old to go out and get it for free, so I resort to buying bags of it…

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