Monday, November 2, 2020

Why Is It Named "Candy Corn"?

Halloween is over and people bought over 9 billion pieces of this one candy that most people only eat once a year.  When we played a couple Halloween games of Kahoot, Candy Corn came up as being a favorite but my students said "Yuck" to it.  No matter what they think, it is a traditional part of Halloween.  

It is said this favorite was first made back in the 1880's when candy companies made a slurry of sugar, corn syrup and a marshmallow creme and turned them into vegetables like pumpkins, turnips, and other foods.  

You may be wondering why agricultural products? At this time in history, about half of the population lived on farms, ranches, or lived off the land so candy companies always made agricultural themed candies to sell to this portion of the population.

The first candy corns were marketed by Wunderle Candy Company out of Philadelphia.  It is said that one of their employees, George Renniger, created the three color, hand cast candy.  There are records showing Wunderle as the first company to market these treats.  It wasn't until 1898 when the Goetz Candy Company (later the Jelly Belly Candy Company)  got the recipe and began producing it.  It wasn't marketed as Candy Corn because most people didn't eat corn, so it instead it was sold as "Chicken Feed".

In fact, it wasn't until World War I when a wheat shortage occurred that people began eating corn and corn based products such as corn meal, corn flour, etc.  Even into the early 1920's the company used a rooster to help sell the product with the pitch of "King of the Candy Corn Fields."  However, over the first half of the 20th century, Candy Corn became one of the common "penny" candies which are cheap candies kids could easily buy in bulk and enjoy. 

At this point in time Candy Corn was sold year round so it appeared at Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas, and was eaten by kids just because it was cheap and good. Then in 1950, the company made a push to increase consumption of this candy around Halloween even though it was sold year round.  Even today, it is well known at Halloween and honestly, that is the only time I think about it.

In the beginning, the company cooked up a slurry of sugar and other ingredients and once it was nice and gooey, men would walk backwards filling molds where the concoction cooled and then tipped out for another run.  Now, they still make the slurry but the process has been mechanized but they still make it doing the white first, the orange second, and the yellow bottom last. 

If you surveyed people on the proper way to eat candy corn, you'll find people have their favorite way of consuming the treat.  About 65 percent of Americans believe you should eat the whole thing at once while 27 percent think one should begin at the white end working through to the yellow part and 7 percent want to begin at the yellow end and go to the white.  

Candy Corn candy is such a part of the culture that October 30th has been declared national Candy Corn day. Brach's candies markets a variety of flavors that combine peanut butter and chocolate, or maple and French toast, or caramel or Birthday cake.  I don't like the stuff so I avoid it at all costs.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

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