Candy corn: It's a simple mix of sugar, corn syrup, fondant and more, yet many express boisterous opinions about it.
While candy corn may seem like a trivial “food” item to gripe about, its production value isn’t. According to the National Confectioners Association, approximately 9 billion pieces of candy corn are sold each year - but it didn't start out that way.
Today, candy corn’s taste remains a heated debate among family, friends, co-workers, and strangers, but from a business perspective, there’s no questioning its success.
The early years
Legend has it (no, seriously, this is oral tradition) that George Renninger, a candy-maker from the Wunderle Candy Co. of Philadelphia, invented candy corn in the 1880s. Jelly Belly has been making candy corn the longest and uses the original recipe. Jelly Belly said the process was taxing and involved the candy-maker, or “runner,” taking close to 50 pounds of hot fondant and blending the candy with cornstarch three separate times to get all three individual colors in the kernels -- a process machines now control.
While it is often regarded as a Halloween treat, in the early 1900s, it was served at many fall gatherings as its corn shape symbolized the harvest, The Atlantic reported in 2010. It grew to be a beloved treat during World War I when corn products became valuable due to a lack of wheat.
Though Brach advertised it as a summertime candy in 1957, October advertising for candy corn skyrocketed in the 1950s as the holiday’s candy demand rose.
Since then, the industry has seen many permutations of the treat.
Five industry candy corn concoctions
Hershey’s Candy Corn Creme Bar and Candy Corn Kisses
According to FoodBeast, Hershey keeps the famous candy corn flavor alive and well with a white chocolate twist. It's also available in "kisses" form.
Candy Corn Oreos
While the hot topic of conversation this year continues to revolve around pumpkin spice and its pop culture takeover - including Pumpkin Spice Oreos - it’s easy to forget that candy corn Oreos debuted in 2012. Chocolate alone apparently isn’t sweet enough during the Halloween craze.
Jet-Puffed Candy Corn Marshmallows
No, there aren’t actual candy corn kernels embedded in the marshmallow itself, but these morsels do feature candy corn colors and taste to satisfy both bonfire-lovers and candy corn connoisseurs alike.
Pebbles Candy Corn
For a limited time only, this sugary concoction is coming soon to a cereal aisle near you. But Pebbles isn’t the first cereal to feature a candy corn fusion. Back in 2001, Kellogg’s stocked shelves with Candy Corn Pops along with Jack ‘O’ Lantern Apple Jacks and Kreepy Rice Krispies, not to mention the other Halloween-inspired cereals available today.
Because Halloween isn’t enough - again
History is starting to repeat itself, this time for a familiar reason - money. Candy corn has gone beyond its Halloween fuss and has re-invaded the likes of Thanksgiving, in addition to Christmas (dubbed "Reindeer Corn"),Valentine’s Day ("Cupid Corn") and Easter to bank on the popularity. It’s even gone patriotic.