9 Things You Didn’t Know About Candy Corn
Every year, it hides in some dark, dank corner of even the most raucous Halloween party, waiting for some unknowing fool to stick their hand in its clutches of doom. It entices its prey with colorful designs and the promise of sweet joy, only to fill its victims with a familiar sense of bland, flavorless dread. This horror isn't some flesh-hungry siren that snares its victims with its sultry voice. It's candy corn, that traditional Halloween treat that always rears its yellow, orange and white face every year mainly because no one can ever get rid of the stuff.
But this most reviled of Halloween candies actually has an interesting origin. Here are nine things you probably didn't know about candy corn.
Dating back to the late 1800s, candy corn is basically the same now as it was during the days of cowboys and penny candy. Which makes us wonder if the stuff we're eating today is still the first draft of a batch that the creator tried to perfect until his dying day. The original recipe really hasn't gone through much refining since its humble beginnings. The only real major additions are marshmallows and fondant, the tasty ingredient that makes 'Cake Boss' drinking games highly dangerous.
Every year, millions of disappointed trick-or-treaters would like to know the jerk who created candy corn so they can scorn his family's name for sticking them with uneaten bags of the stuff every Halloween. Unfortunately, that's not possible because nobody knows the candy's true creator. The Wunderle Candy Company was the first professional confectioner to sell the stuff in the 1880s, followed by the Goelitz Confectionary Company of Cincinnati who gave candy corn its first national distribution the following decade. While not the inventor, you can blame Gustav Goelitz (left) and his brother for coming up with the idea to sell the stuff in bulk.
While it might be everywhere during October, only a handful of companies actually manufacture and distribute candy corn today. Back in the day, there was no patent for the product since the recipe had such a long oral tradition. In fact, it was many years before it even had an official name. One of the earliest names for candy corn was “Chicken Feed” — an unappetizing moniker that the Goelitz company actually marketed it under when it initially hit the market. Unsurprisingly, the name was eventually changed to the slightly less stomach-turning one we know today.
Candy corn might sound like a sweet and innocent thing that couldn't harm a fly, but it actually caused one of the more destructive industrial fires in business history. Back in 1950, Goelitz's New Jersey factory was making a big batch of the stuff in a kettle lined with beeswax when the kettle caught fire just before their big Halloween rush. The fire destroyed the block-long building and 2,000 pounds of candy corn stock, giving competitors a window of opportunity to supply stores with extra bags of the stuff when Goelitz couldn’t meet their demands.
Halloween may only come once a year, but the stuff sells year-round keeping dentists in business. Depending on who you ask, confectioneries like Brachs sell anywhere between 9 billion and 15 billion kernels of candy corn annually. Clearly someone is a fan.
Even though it's given out every year to trick-or-treaters and party-goers who are looking for one more reason to tell their Weight Watchers coach where they can cram their flex points, candy corn is actually one of the least unhealthy candies on the market. While it's traditionally made with honey and corn syrup and contains roughly 28 grams of sugar per serving, it's fat free and only 140 calories per handful. So enjoy the stuff in good health (if you can stomach it).
You don't have to wait until Oct. 31 to get rid of your annual stock of waxy candy horror. There's another holiday in October that will allow you to unload your stockpile before the trick-or-treaters start roaming the neighborhoods and egging the houses that give out crummy treats. National Candy Corn Day is traditionally held on Oct. 30, a day that mysteriously started appearing on calendars after it became a Halloween staple. Do we detect a worldwide candy corn conspiracy?
The biggest mystery surrounding candy corn is how it became such a popular staple of Halloween treats when nobody seems to actually enjoy eating the stuff. This isn't just the rambling musings of an angry fat guy with discerning taste of high fructose-based confectionaries. It’s proven marketing research. Last year, a poll of candy consumers were asked by a market research firm to name their favorite treat brands. By far, candy corn was the “most polarized brand and generated the most negative feelings.” Clearly it's the Charlie Sheen of candies.
Maybe you're the kind of Halloween party-goer who only gets dressed up in a rented cowboy outfit or a homemade SpongeBob costume for the free drinks. That doesn't mean your taste buds are exempt from torture. Someone out there (presumably very evil who feels scorned by the world) created a Candy Corn Cordial that can either be made with vodka or orange liqueur. Add floating candy corn for garnish if you're feeling adventurous.