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Don’t you just love seasonal candy? I know I do. But, it’s a gift and a curse. It’s here with abundance one minute, and on sale and gone the next. And that is the unfortunate part… the gone part (although tummy aches from mass consumption can also be seen as a downside). Halloween, the candy high holy day, is right around the corner, but the candy has been in stores for what feels like months now (time stretches with resistance). A cult favorite has been flying off the shelves everywhere…Candy Corn.

Candy Corn is one of those old school favorite Halloween candies, that come loose in a time where people are terrified of germ and because of that it may have fallen out of favor, forgotten in a realm of mass-produced fun sized wrapped goodies.

But apparently this year, zee Candy Corn is back and with a vengeance. There is a slew of Candy Corn inspired seasonal treats that the crowds are going wild for. According to The Daily News, Candy Corn is “enjoying a sweet comeback.”[1] Nabisco has come out with the super elusive Candy Corn Oreo, which is exclusively for Target (though, every time I have been to Target since I have heard the news on The Village Voice Blog, they were nowhere to be found…). The cream middle wedged between the two vanilla cookies is flavored like the classic candy and orange and yellow. Not only is Nabisco taking part in this hip revival of the seasonal sweet, M&M’s has also created a goodie paying homage to the classic; a white chocolate with Candy Corn flavored candied shell. Candy Corn themes and flavors are not solely restricted to sweets, but there are rounds of cocktails inspired by the old school favorite.[2]

Now that is popularity has been restored, let’s look way back to its inception, which was more than 100 years ago (!!). It was first invented in the 1880s in Philadelphia, by George Renninger, an employee of the Wunderle(e) Candy Company.[3] Many candies at the time were shaped in other plants. Mr. Renninger wanted to create a candy in the shape of corn, which oddly enough was not a widely consumed food because of  associations with the low brow. Candy Corn was originally popular with farmers,because of the shape, but the tricolored delicacy and multilayered candy awed the public, making it a success.[4]

Soon after, the Goelitz Confectionery Company, founded by a German immigrant, started commercial production of their Candy Corn in 1898, in Cincinnati. [5] Goelitz is now the Jelly Belly Candy Company and remains one of the top producers.

These candies were labor-intensive involving several workers. Initially it was only available from March until November, but now, with our crazy candy machines, Candy Corn has become year round. Before, large vats or kettles were employed to heat the basic ingredients of the candy; sugar, water and corn syrup (that addictive little bugger). Fondant for texture and marshmallow for softness, would then be whipped in. When the correct consistency was obtained, men called “stringers” would pour the hot mixture into shaped molds. There would be three passes made, one for each of the tell-tale colors.[6]

I am not sure any of us really wants the nutrition facts, because they can’t be anything good. There is about 3.57 calories per kernel, so if you can limit your intake it's not that bad.[7] 19 pieces of Brach’s Candy Corn is about 140 calories. Brach’s Candy Corn is made up of sugar, corn syrup, confectioners glaze, salt, honey, gelatin, and other less real things. On the plus side it is a fat free candy (wince).[8]

Now, just like back in the day, there are two different camps; Jelly Belly and Brach’s . It also feels like there are other brands that make what looks like Candy Corn, but sometimes does not have the same honey marshmallow like chew. I tend to stay away from imitation Candy Corn, because it ends up tasting like sweetened plastic, painted to play the part.

I, myself, am a “Brach’s Candy Corn girl.” That’s just how it is. I think that Brach’s is the brand that my mother prefers and has been feeding me and my sister since we were old enough to chew. I still just gravitate towards Brach’s now that I find myself buying Candy Corn on my own, though rarely (because my mother beats me to it).

Just so you know, Brach’s is the nation’s top seller of Candy Corn. And produces enough to circle the Earth about 4.25 times if each kernel was laid end to end (OMG). Though the National Confectioners Association estimates that about 20 million (yes, million) pounds of candy corn are sold each year (holy moly).[9]

After my mother reported, that it was very hard to find our favorite, I was worried, not looking forward to indulging in the fake stuff. But my heart rejoiced when I was wandering Target and found their seasonal aisle swarming with Brach’s Candy Corn. My world was set right. I found my favorite. And my favorite of my favorites, Brach’s Autumn Mix (!!).
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Autumn Mix is the Candy God’s gift to human kind, a holy trinity of mellowcremes. This heavenly bag is comprised of three major elements; Candy Corn, Indian Corn, and Mellowcreme Pumpkins.

Well we all know what Candy Corn is (now)…

Indian Corn is a variation on the classic. People often remind you to stay away from variations, but this time it is completely different. Indian Corn, not only has different colors,  but it has a different flavor. The brown at the fat bottom of the kernel is actually chocolate flavored (!!). Not only is it delicious, but the hint of chocolate transforms the goody into something magical. This little addition of chocolate can (I am not guaranteeing anything) help to appease the mild (emphasis on mild) chocolate lover. Indian Corn is a great addition to the family. Indian Corn is meant to look like the multicolored kernels of Flint corn, more commonly, Indian Corn,[10] which was cultivated by the indigenous peoples of North America.  Today we do not eat this variety of corn, because it is super hard and not sweet, but Native Americans would use the corn ground up into a meal.[11] This multicolored festive looking corn is presently used as decoration, rather than food.  So the candy definitely plays on both past and present uses of the corn.

Last, and certainly not least (not by a long shot), are the Mellowcreme Pumpkins. I did happen to save the best for last (for me at least). They are the plumpest, with the most soft, chewy, marshmallowy center out of the entire bunch. The pumpkins are made of the same ingredients, but they are in the shape of mini pumpkins; small and orange, with a bright green little stem coming from the top. This is reminiscent of the era when Candy Corn was invented, as candies were often shaped into plants according to Gourmet Live Blog.[12] Making these pumpkin shaped goodies is not a far cry from the past.

Brach’s has strayed from the tri-colored Candy Corn, and their Pumpkin and Indian Corn friends and created different flavors, with different colors (gasp). The flavors were created a few years back according to Candyblog.net[13] (a blog I will need to study as I am a candy connoisseur). These flavors are Caramel Apple Candy Corn, Caramel Corn and Chocolate Caramel Corn. I can not wait to try these bad boys once they go on sale. There are also various Candy Corn colors to suit other seasons and holidays, like Bunny Corn, Reindeer Corn, among others, created by Jelly Belly.

Ok, I know that Candy Corn is not everyone’s favorite; it’s sweet, it’s neither soft nor hard, it’s not chocolate, and it’s not wrapped (goodness me). But it is one of those fall time staples, like apples or pumpkins. Not only do we eat it (by the handfuls), we decorate with it. There is a plethora of recipes for cupcakes, cookies …you name it…that Candy Corn can be a lovely addition to, especially during this time of year. Not only are people putting Candy Corn in or on confections, chefs are using candy corn to flavor other delicious things, like panna cotta or marshmallow cream.[14] Candy Corn also makes a great decorator of inedible objects as well, topiaries and centerpieces, and it has also become a pattern for fabrics and such. Talk about Candy Corn craziness!

If you are ambitious you can even make your own rendition of the seasonal classic. Try out Alton Brown’s recipe (let me know how that goes). But I think I’ll just stick to my good ol’ bagged Candy Corn!

P.S. October 30th has been dubbed National Candy Corn Day![15] So stock up!!

Don't forget to check out my sources page to read more sweet things about the seasonal sweet thangs (p.s. reading is always more fun when nibbling on Candy Corn).

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[1] Daily News, “This Halloween, candy corn appears in cookies, M&Ms, cocktails”
[2] Daily News, “This Halloween, candy corn appears in cookies, M&Ms, cocktails”
[3] National Confectioners Association “Candy Corn”
[4] Maddie Donnelly “The History of… Halloween & Candy Corn” Gourmet Live Blog
[5] Hauntedbay.com “Candy Corn”
[6] Hauntedbay.com “Candy Corn”
[7] Hauntedbay.com “Candy Corn”
[8] Brachs.com “Candy Corn Nutrition Facts
[9] wikipedia.org “Candy Corn”
[10] Wikipedia.org “Flint Corn”
[11] Victoria Vogt “Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Indian Corn” TLC Howstuffworks.com
[12] Maddie Donnelly “The History of… Halloween & Candy Corn” Gourmet Live Blog
[13] Cybele May “Brach’s Chocolate Candy Corn & Halloween Mix” CandyBlog
[14] Leah A. Zeldes, “Candy corn is back, and trendier than ever” Sun Times
[15] Stephanie Watson “What is candy corn and how is it made?” TLC Howstuffworks.com

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