Kicking Back With Jersey Joe: Candy Corn – From Snack to Liquor [More Than You Ever Wanted To Know] Oct29

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Kicking Back With Jersey Joe: Candy Corn – From Snack to Liquor [More Than You Ever Wanted To Know]

So is it a candy, a vegetable, what’s left after the wick burns out of your candle?  Candy corn is absolutely a staple of the Halloween celebration in the United States.  Bags upon bags show up in the grocery stores to fill the trick or treat baskets.  But, do we really know where this stuff comes from or how it got to be such a part of our culture?  It actually has quite a fascinating existence and it’s not just limited to Halloween!

Candy corn was originally invented by George Renninger of the Wunderlee Candy Company in Philadelphia, back in the 1880s.  The recipe was quickly taken over by a German candy maker; The Goelitz Confectionary Company of Cincinnati where they eventually headed west to California and were bought out by Jelly Belly who still continues to produce the product to this day.  The shape of a corn was chosen since farming was one of the largest occupations in our country at the time.

Originally each piece had to be assembled by hand, once all the ingredients were mixed into a slurry and molded.  Once in the molds, workers would go down the line one at a time and paint the colors on.  Could you imagine working in the hot summer and oven heat painting millions of pieces?

However, the flashy candies were a hit and they flew out of stores in bulk.  The company was so successful; they tried manufacturing other shapes and even had to turn away customers due to the high demand.

In the 1970’s, a shortage of sugar put many candy manufactures out of business.  Goelitz was able to avoid bankruptcy all thanks to this now famous product.

Each piece of candy corn is approximately three times the size of a regular corn kernel.  The recipe is simple: sugar (of course – its candy), corn syrup, artificial coloring, binders, a bit of wax, and marshmallows!

Brach’s Candies is now the largest retailer of candy corn. You can’t help but not miss all their colorful bags on sale in just about any store this time of year.  It’s estimated that 20 million pounds are sold yearly, with Brach’s selling enough to circle the earth 4.25 times.  That’s a dentist’s dream!

I can remember my grandmother always running to the drugstore and picking up a couple of bags in late September.  One for me and one to fill treat bags for the kids in costume.  Now, it seems most stores have these ready to go for trick or treating just after the Fourth of July.  Earlier this year, I saw Target had their Halloween items proudly for sale next to their late season clearance patio furniture.

I can honestly say that I haven’t eaten a piece of candy corn in years.  I was never super fond of the bland, waxy taste.  I’ve always felt these could have been jazzed up the flavor with a hint of vanilla or something.

But, no longer are the oddities just limited to corn shapes at Halloween.  Various colors are now for sale during other holidays with a simple name and color change.  Have you ever snacked on Reindeer corn, Indian corn, Cupid corn, or Bunny corn?

And like all products, the manufacturers have tried to evolve the candy by molding it into different shapes such as pumpkins, Santa, bunnies, and peeps.  These are known as “mellowcremes” and are available during their respective seasons.

Now, with no nutrition value these actually aren’t too terrible for the diet.  There’s 0 calories, but they are mostly sugar.  A few pieces shouldn’t hurt.

The triangular little critters have also made their way to outer space.  NASA astronaut Don Pettit has taken them aboard the International Space Station, not only as a snack, but for experiments!

The candies certainly have certainly evolved from their original Halloween snack status.  The Food Network has come up with a Candy Corn Cordial, mixing the candies with vodka. You can even dress yourself and your dog up like one!

So go ahead, pick up and bag or two and enjoy a snack.  They will never replace real corn (I wouldn’t add butter and knock back a few handfuls during a movie).  But, as a snack on their own or on top of a cupcake… why not?

THE 411

Name: Candy Corn

Largest Manufacturers: Brach’s, Jelly Belly (under ownership from Goelitz Confectionary Company)

Price: You can find this in the dollar store for a buck a bag and up.  Some supermarkets and candy stores do sell it in bulk by the pound.

JERSEY JOE RECOMMENDS: Pick up a bag and enjoy a cheap Halloween snack.  It’s not my most favorite candy, but it has a cool past.  I wish they would continue to roll out new flavors.  I remember the Indian corn variety tastes like chocolate and peanut butter.  Like your mother always said, don’t each too much candy or you’ll get and upset stomach… I guess that same rule would apply here.  And if you’re not a fan, they make great projectiles to flick at a co-worker or loved one!  Just kidding… please, no lawsuits!  Do so at your own discretion and have a Happy Halloween!

featured image credit: bunchofpants