Every Halloween, bags of triangle-shaped, yellow, orange and white candies fill trick-or-treat bags all over the country.
According to the National Confectioners Association (who knew?), candy companies will produce nearly 35 million pounds! of the corny candy this year. That's about 9 billion individual kernels of corn.
Candy corn is a sweet replicate of dried corn kernels though it looks more like teeth. It's considered a "mellow cream," a name for a type of candy made from corn syrup and sugar that has a marshmallow-like flavor.
Most people know the traditional candy corn with three stripes — yellow at the bottom, orange at the center and white at the top — but it also comes in a variety of other colours and flavours depending on the holiday:
- Brown, orange, and white Indian corn (the brown section is chocolate-flavoured) for Thanksgiving
- Green, white and red Reindeer corn for Christmas
- Pink, red and white Cupid corn for Valentine's Day
- Pastel-colored Bunny corn for Easter
Candy corn has been around for more than a century. George Renninger of the Wunderlee Candy Company invented it in the 1880's. It was originally very popular among farmers and its look was revolutionary for the candy industry.
The Goelitz Candy Company started making candy corn in 1900 and still makes it today, although the name has changed to the Jelly Belly Candy Company.
"Indian corn" also known as "candy corn for communists" is popular around Thanxgiving
Although the recipe for candy corn hasn't changed much since the late 1800's, the way it's made has changed quite a bit. In the early days, workers mixed the main ingredients — sugar, water and corn syrup — in large kettles. Then they added fondant (a sweet, creamy icing made from sugar, corn syrup and water) and marshmallow for smoothness. Finally, they poured the entire mixture by hand into molds, one colour at a time. Because the work was so tedious, candy corn was only available from March to November.
Today, naturally, machines do most of the work. Manufacturers use the "corn starch molding process" to create the signature design. A machine fills a tray of little kernel-shaped holes with cornstarch, which holds the candy corn in shape. Each hole fills part way with sweet white syrup coloured with artificial food colouring. Next comes the orange syrup, and finally, the yellow syrup. Then the mold cools and the mixture sits for about 24 hours until it hardens. A machine empties the trays, and the kernels fall into chutes. Any excess cornstarch shakes loose in a big sifter. Then the candy corn gets a glaze to make it shine, and workers package it for shipment to stores. Why do I feel like Marc Summers should be narrating this?
But what is it about candy corn that puts you over the edge? Same goes for candy corn's cousin, circus peanuts. You can only eat so many because suddenly you'll know when you just ate one too many. You get sick rather fast. It's very weird. You can eat them by the handful all afternoon and then WOAH... just one puts you over... Must be all that canuba wax.