Love it or hate it (and very few people fall in between), there's no denying that candy corn is the ubiquitous Halloween confection, with billions of pounds produced each year, and nearly all of it sold in the months leading up to the big October holiday. Since you're seeing the tri-color treat everywhere you look right about now, there's no better time to learn a bit more about the polarizing sweet. Here, 10 things to know.
1. It's been around since the 1880s
That was the decade when a man named George Renninger, who worked for the Wunderle Candy Company, invented it. Just before the turn of the century, the Goelitz Confectionary Company began making its own version, using a rooster in its advertising and calling the candy "butter sweet" and "something worth crowing for." The company has been making candy corn continuously ever since, but today you know Goelitz as the Jelly Belly Candy Company.
2. It's a favorite in more states than any other Halloween candy
Candy corn consistenly ranks high up on lists of favorite Halloween candies in the U.S., and according to a recent poll of 40,000 people by the website Influenster, candy corn ranked as the number-one favorite Halloween candy in Oregon, Texas, Tennessee and South Carolina. Candy corn did not, however, receive the highest number of votes overall. That honor went to Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. We get it.
3. The process of making it hasn't changed in 100 years
The base mixture of sugar, corn syrup, food coloring and flavorings (which has stayed nearly the same over the years) is melted into a liquid and poured into a mold to give the candy corn its fabled triangular shape. While today's candy makers use modern-day machines, much of the process, including using kettles to cook the mixture, is still exactly like it was when the candy first landed on the scene in the 1800s, according to Susan Whiteside, spokesperson for the National Confectioners Association. "Originally it was poured into a mold by a person. First they do would do the white, then the yellow, then the orange. It's still done in three passes and it still happens it that same order, but it's just a machine that does it now," Whiteside told The Feast. Finally, the candies are "polished" with a confectioner's glaze to give them that famous sheen.
4. It's the original limited-edition treat
Sure, today there are Easter Peeps and Christmas M&Ms, but back when candy corn was invented there wasn't any seasonal candy. "Historically it's only available in the fall," says Whiteside. "Before there were pumpkin spiced lattes, there was candy corn. I think that scarcity contributes to its popularity. You know that you have a limited period of time to enjoy it."
5. It's finally breaking into the trick-or-treating category
The treat has traditionally found its place in a living room candy dish or big bowl at the office, but the ultimate Halloween candy has been wedging its way into trick-or-treaters' bags on Halloween night in recent years. "One thing that has come about in the last decade is that there are single-serve sizes of candy corn now," adds Whiteside. "So, for the first time in its history you can hand it out for Halloween."
6. Candy corn is a low-calorie snack (well, kind of)
Each single piece of candy corn has only around seven calories, which means you can pop a couple with few caloric consequences. But let's face, if you love the corn, you're gonna eat more than just a few and probably skew more toward the serving size of 19, which clocks in at 140 calories. The good news is a half hour of walking will probably burn it off. Totally worth it!
7. A massive fire once caused a regional candy corn shortage
In 1950, a kettle caught fire at the Goelitz factory in Midland Park, New Jersey. The blaze quickly spread, destroyed the entire building, and the disaster was recorded as one of the largest candy factory fires in the nation's history. Thankfully, none of the dozen factory workers were hurt in the blaze but the 2,000 pounds of the sweet stuff inside weren't so lucky. Retailers in New Jersey and neighboring New York and Pennsylvania were left with empty shelves where the coveted candy corn should have been. And while they placed last-minute orders with Goelitz's competitors, there was only so much to go around that year, making offerings scarcer than usual.
8. It's got a whole other life in the crafting world
Take that, melty chocolate. From wreaths to picture frames to centerpieces, the fun ideas for candy corn in the crafting/DIY/Pinterest world are as endless as a candy-lover's stamina on Halloween night. And, apparently, the bite-size treat comes in just as handy when it comes to Thanksgiving décor, doing double duty as feathers on a turkey.
9. And don't forget the vodka
You knew it was coming. The Internet's martini glass has runneth over with recipes for candy-corn cocktails, and layered libations meant to mirror the tri-color look. And you can even make your own candy corn vodka via a week-long infusion process … but better get going now if you want to serve up some orange-hued shots come Halloween night.
10. There's a candy corn day (haters, look away)
No, it's not on Halloween. It's actually on October 30. And while there aren't exactly any nationally televised events or parades, it's a chance to show your candy corn spirit, at least on Instagram, where cc-lovers can boast their artsy photos of the stuff, gorgeous theme cakes, and even candy corn manicures. Oh, and this year, you most likely get the day off from work since the big holiday falls on a Sunday.
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