Candy corn: Love it or hate it, it’s back

Oct. 30 is National Candy Corn Day

Fall season varieties of candy corn. (Wikimedia Commons)

For some, candy corn is representative of the fall season, and there’s just no Halloween without it. For others, it belongs in the trash.

Whether it’s your yuck or your yum, chances are you’ll encounter it again this season. The National Confectioners Association has reported the triangular, brightly tri-colored classic is Americans’ third-favorite Halloween treat. In fact, the NCA commemorated this by officially deeming Oct. 30 National Candy Corn Day.

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While its waxy texture and buttercream flavor isn’t for everyone, even haters will purchase the candy as a decorative add-on to sweet and spooky holiday treats and activities. (Life hack: If you can tolerate them in your mouth at all, they make for hilarious candy corn “teeth” pictures.)

Passionate debates on goodness (or lack thereof) aside, the tiny, 7-calories-a-piece sugar icons have a sizeable list of fun facts. We’ve compiled some of the most interesting ones here for you:

1. What is that flavor? While familiar, many can’t quite put a finger on its deliciousness or grossness, but candy corn has base flavors of honey, sugar, butter and vanilla. Along with cherry, lemon and cocoa, butter flavors like buttercream and butterscotch were some of the original hits of the late 1800s.

2. How is it made? Candy corn was handmade when it was first produced in 1888 by the Wunderle Candy Company. Sugar, corn syrup, palm wax and water were mixed and heated before fondant and marshmallows were added for texture. The mixture would then be poured into molds in order of color, first yellow, then orange and lastly, white. Today, the ingredients and process are still the same except “machines do the work.”

3. Are the colors chosen for the fall season? No. In fact, candy corn didn’t become strongly associated with Halloween until after World War II, when the custom of trick-or-treating caught on. The colors did, however, help the candy become popular. Candies weren’t too exciting back in the 1800s, mostly produced in round, unicolor forms. So, when the brightly layered tetrahedral sweets hit the stores, they instantly stood out.

4. Why is it called “corn”? Originally, candy corn was called “Chicken Feed.” According to the Smithsonian Magazine, candies were manufactured in the 1800s often with a rural marketing aim, making many candies back then agriculturally inspired. The practice has carried through the last century, producing candies like Mary Jane in 1914, Chick-O-Stick in the 1950s and Cow Tales in 1984. An incredibly fun fact here: When stacked, candy corn looks just like corn on the cob. It’s considered a fun DIY craft.

When stacked together, candy corn looks just like corn on the cob — a DIY craft for the season. (Wikimedia Commons)

5. The numbers, stats and figures According to the NCA, around 35 million pounds of candy corn are sold every year, mostly during Halloween season. While the Goelitz Confectionery Company (now Jelly Belly) was the first to make candy corn, Brach’s is now the largest manufacturer. Out of those 35 million pounds annually — which result in almost 9 billion pieces a year — Brach’s accounts for 85% of those, or 7 billion pieces a year, to be exact.

6. Best of the worst Numbers aside, an extensive data gathering process, which took into account sale numbers as well as consumer feedback, listed candy corn as just barely the best of the worst, ranking No. 1 in the bottom ten candies for Halloween in 2021. If you would like to make more sense of that or see what other candies beat candy corn to the winning spot, we synthesized that list for you here.

7. There are varieties – it’s not just for Halloween You’ve seen them, you just don’t remember. Candy corn comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Extending past the chocolate brown base candy corn variety and the candy pumpkins, there is candy corn for almost every occasion! There’s Easter candy corn, with pastel colors combinations of white and purple, pink, green or yellow; there’s red, white and green Christmas ones called “Reindeer Corn;” there’s Valentine’s Day candy corn; there’s red, white and blue pieces for Fourth of July celebrations; and much more, such as the more obscure caramel apple, macchiato coffee, fruity, peanut butter and even Nerd candy flavors. So, if you don’t like traditional candy corn, there may be a flavor out there for you still.

8. This may be getting out of hand Combinations of new Oreo cookie flavors have evolved from cute to legitimately weird at times. To confirm this, yes, Oreo once released a limited edition bag of candy-corn-flavored Oreos in stores. Apparently, stores couldn’t keep shelves stocked for too long, as they were flying right off, giving some Amazon sellers an opportunity to peddle them for as much as $15 a bag with shipping.

Candy-corn-flavored Oreos exist. (Wikimedia Commons)

9. It’s everywhere Candy corn cookies, candy corn Rice Krispies triangles, candy corn teeth, candy corn decorations, candy corn pillows and even candy corn makeup... but now, adventurous eaters and candy corn lovers are in luck! There is also candy corn beer. Cheers!

10. The other debate: how to eat it Clearly excluding the haters, there is ongoing debate of what the “proper” way of eating candy corn is, and there is actually a winner. According to the NCA, eating the white tip first, then the orange middle and lastly the yellow base is the most popular form of delectation when it comes to enjoying these waxy boys. Other popular suggestions include popping them whole in the mouth, either one at a time or in larger quantities, and some even suggest eating them from the yellow base first all the way to the white tip (YOLO, I guess).

But one internet user left us with this suggestion.


About the Author:

Lillian M. Hernández Caraballo joined News 6 in September.