Food With Friends: Candy corn: the Halloween treat

By Meaghan Sands

Which to eat first; the orange side or the white?

This is the dilemma one faces when eating the eternally popular All Hallows Eve confection treat: candy corn.

Candy corn is one of the popular treats that will be passed out to children, and adults when going trick-or-treating this Halloween. It is also one of the healthiest you’ll receive, with roughly 28 grams of sugar, 140 calories and no fat for 26 pieces.

Candy corn, like Oreos, are one of those treats that have various methods of being consumed. Some prefer to toss them whole into their mouth. Others require a more methodical consumption method: top to bottom or bottom to top. There are also those who choose to use the color coded M&M method by eating all the whites first, then the yellows, which leaves them with a handful of the orange bits.

What’s your method?

These days we are able to enjoy this candy corn yearround in a variety of colors for the holidays. Thanksgiving features Indian corn in brown, orange and white and allows us to enjoy these treats for an extra month.

During their early days from 1880 to 1900, candy corn was only a seasonal treat due to the many man hours needed to make it. Back then, the candies were made by hand and were delivered and sold out of wagons.

The story goes that candy corn was created by a confectioner by the name of George Renninger in the 1880’s and was originally called “Chicken Feed.” The candy was sold in boxes with a colorful rooster logo and marketed with the slogan, “Something worth crowing for.”

The Goelitz Confectionary Company, now the present day Jelly Belly Candy Co., popularized the candy in 1900 and holds the longest record in the industry of making candy corn.

So what made these treats so popular and why do they continue to be so? It could have been the country’s agrarian focus and the candy’s similarity to the “corn” grown on acres of land and served on America’s dinner tables. Or was it their tri-color appearance that caught people’s eyes and stood out on market shelves.

Today the candy’s popularity may be due to its nostalgia and icon as a Halloween staple.

The candy’s flavor and texture has probably helped its success as well. The candy’s sweet vanilla taste and subtle changes in flavor throughout the color levels make it a candy that suits the masses. Changes in flavor you might ask? Yes, in a way. Because of the size of each color layer you get a slightly different feel and flavor which is most notable between the white and orange layers. But something I believe should be accredited to its success even more than its flavor is its texture.

Candy corn is made up of a combination of sugar, fondant, corn syrup, vanilla flavor and the ingredient that gives this candy its light and fluffy texture: marshmallow creme. This single ingredient sets these candies apart and gives them a cloud-like texture.

Whether it be their nostalgia, flavor or color that brings them such popularity, candy corn is here to stay. More than 35 million pounds of candy corn will be produced this year which equals about 9 billion pieces. This is enough candy corn to circle the moon nearly 21 times if laid end-to-end. That’s enough candy to give the man in the moon a sugar high.

Fortunately all this candy corn will be divided up throughout the US and possibly the world as it gets handed out to trick-or-treaters this week on Halloween.

Now, how did the tradition of handing out candy get started? It’s hard to say exactly, but stories point back to Irish folk customs.

Halloween used to be the night the doors opened between the living and the dead. This allowed spirits to travel from their earthly homes to their final resting place in the next world. To sustain the spirits during their travels, the Irish would place food and drinks out. The living, traveling from house to house to also enjoy food and libations, would disguise themselves to escape harm from the spirits, much like our modern day Halloween traditions.

So while you’re out trick-or-treating this week, keep a look out for spirits on the move and eat a handful of candy corn, or two.

Food With Friends

Food With Friends

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