While thousands of bags are sold come October every year, candy corn continually shows up on lists of the worst Halloween candy ever. Some may say it's the fruitcake of Halloween: every holiday party has it, but only a few people actually eat it. Whether you love it or hate it, the enduring success of this highly-debated confection is undeniable. Here's a little lesson on the history of candy corn.
According to oral tradition, candy corn dates all the way back to the 1880's when George Renninger, a candy maker at Wunderlee Candy Company in Philadelphia, first produced the tri-color candy. It wasn't until 1989, however, that Goelitz Confectionery Company (now the Jelly Belly Candy Company) picked up his recipe and helped it hit candy store shelves all over the country.
At the time, Goelitz became the nation's largest producer of the small creamy candies with a cooking process done entirely by hand. This involved cooking a sugar and corn syrup-based mixture into a semi-liquid mixture in a large kettle then dumped into buckets called runners. Workers, known as stringers, walked backwards to pour the hot concoction into kernel-shaped tray molds in layers from top to bottom. The mixture then cools and the three layers are sealed together before being polished in large drum pans with the edible wax and glaze that creates that tempt-worthy shine.
Candy corn wasn't originally intended for trick-or-treaters. In fact, while many Halloween traditions have been around for centuries, the annual practice of going door to door collecting candy treats on October 31st only really took off in the 1940's when sugar rations were lifted after World War II. The candy was originally marketed as 'Chicken Feed,' meant to target Americans' largely agricultural roots and was meant to be enjoyed all year round. At the time over half of the nation's labor force lived on farms, so candy pumpkins, turnips, chestnuts and more were all the focus of national confectioners trying to capture this harvesting spirit.
Today, the candy corn cooking process is fully mechanicalized in order to keep up with the demand for the 35 million pounds produced each year. That's nine billion kernels, most of which hit the Halloween market. The recipe has remained essentially the same as the original back from the 1880's, mixing sugar, fondant, marshmallow creme, corn syrup and vanilla into a creamy kernel of goodness.
And while so many still stand behind their aversion to the century-old treat, it has forever become a Halloween icon, joining the ranks of jack-o-lanterns, hayrides, hot cider and other seasonal favorites. You can even celebrate National Candy Corn Day on October 30th. With some slight color tweaks, it's also slowly making its way back to an all-year treat with red and green kernels for Christmas, pink and red for Valentine's Day, pastels for Easter and patriotic hues for July 4th.
Even if you aren't in favor of this timeless tri-color candy, it just wouldn't be a Halloween party without them! With October 31st right around the corner, make sure you're prepared with plenty of candy corn to eat, decorate with or debate overall season long! Contact usto get your wholesale halloween candy!