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The History of Candy Corn
Love it or hate it, everybody knows what Candy Corn is! This sugary sweet orange-white-and-yellow candy is usually associated with Halloween, and consumed by millions of people each year around the holiday. Ever wonder where it came from or why it’s so popular? Read on for a brief history of everyone’s favorite (or least favorite) Halloween candy!
Candy Corn was first created in the 1880s by a man named George Renninger, who worked for the Wunderlee Candy Company in Philadelphia, PA.
Not too long after it was first created, Goelitz Confectionary Company started creating the kernel-shaped candy and called it “Chicken Feed,” because of its resemblance to actual corn kernels. At this point, America was a largely agrarian society, so the public went nuts over the candy, and definitely thought it was “something worth crowing for.” The candy company, renamed the Jelly Belly candy Company in the early 2000s, has been producing candy corn ever since, making it the longest-running maker of candy corn.
Candy corn starts with a mixture of sugar, corn syrup, vanilla flavoring, and water. Fondant is added for texture and marshmallow is added for a softer bite. The final mixture is heated and then poured into kernel-shaped molds, one color at a time. The mixture has to harden in between each color layer. After the candies are hardened, they are polished in a giant drum with edible wax and a glaze (which gives it a glossy appearance).
Initially, the entire candy-making process was done by hand. After the mixture was made and heated in a large kettle, it was divided into smaller buckets. Men called “stringers” walked back and forth between the kettle and the molds, pouring the mixture in little bits at a time. The candy required 24 hours to dry between layers. Because of how tedious the process was, candy corn was only available for about half of the year, starting in late spring and going into the fall.
Variations of a Traditional Treat
Though the majority of candy corn is consumed during the Halloween season, candy companies have started making colored variations to sell at other holidays. “Cupid Corn” is red, pink and white; “Reindeer Corn” is red, green and white; “Freedom Corn” is red, white and blue, “Indian Corn” is brown, red and white, and “Bunny Corn” comes in a variety of pastel colors (pink, purple, green, yellow) with a white tip. In recent years, they’ve released flavored variants: caramel apple, green apple, s’mores, pumpkin spice, peppermint, and most recently, a carrot cake-flavored candy corn that is orange, white and green.
Did You Know?
If you stack candy corn up carefully, it really does look like an ear of corn.
The proper way to eat candy corn is a hotly debated topic every Halloween. The National Confectioner’s Association took a poll in 2013 and found that the highest percentage of people (46.8%) eat the whole piece at once. A slightly lower percentage (42.7%) start with the narrow white tip. Only 10.6% of people eat the wider yellow end first.
Well-known comedian Lewis Black HATES candy corn, and claims that all the candy corn that exists in the world today was made in 1911, and candy manufacturers just collect and resell the same product each year because nobody likes it enough to buy it.
Candy companies estimate that they will produce 35 million pounds of candy corn this year, the majority of it around Halloween. That comes out to 9 billion individual kernels!
October 30th is National Candy Corn Day.
An unopened bag of candy corn can potentially last for nine months.