“Cornier” Than a Dad Joke – Don’t Miss out on Halloween’s Tastiest Treat

“Cornier” Than a Dad Joke

Don’t Miss out on Halloween’s Tastiest Treat

By: Ciara Danay Gradillas

Every year, when fall comes around, I love to make my favorite special treat: popcorn and Chex mix, with my favorite ancient “corny” confection: CANDY CORN!  This tiny treat is packed with a yummy, gooey, explosion of marshmallow flavor. The best part about this candy, is there is no stickiness left behind on your fingers. There are many ways to enjoy this tri-colored candy.  It can be eaten by itself, or it can be paired with any of your favorite snacks. The sky is the limit!

How do YOU like to eat your candy corn? A recent study by the National Confectioners Association asked people that very question.  The study found that 31% of people like to start from the top point of the candy corn and work their way down, while 17% of people like to start at the bottom end and work their way up. Finally, the majority of people enjoy eating the entire kernel in one bite1. I must be in my own category as I am a ‘nibbling from the middle of the kernel’ type of woman! The same study also explored which generation loves candy corn the most. The results were that 58% of Generation X, 56% of Baby Boomers, 46% of Generation Z, and 46% of millennials love candy corn.2 Which category of candy corn connoisseur do you fall into?

Did you know that candy corn was one of the first candies on the market? This sweet treat was created in Philadelphia in the 1800s. Believe it or not, this tiny, yet mighty, treat wasn’t always referred to as “candy corn.” An American farmer named George Renninger invented candy corn and had a brilliant idea to market the candy to other farmers and their children.  These sugar kernels were originally called “Chicken Feed”, because of their corn-like shape.3 The candy was packaged in eye-catching, brightly colored boxes, with a rooster prominently displayed on the front. The slogan read, “Something Worth Crowing For”. It’s more familiar moniker, “candy corn,” did not arise until 18 years later once the confection had risen in popularity and had become highly coveted by the masses.4

What really fascinates me about the candy corn making process, is the method used to shape this delicacy. In 1880 when they were first invented, the candy makers formed each tiny corn kernel by HAND! When the confection began to gain wild popularity, the candy makers designed special molds to better assist them in filling the larger orders, with perfectly shaped kernels in every batch. The candy makers had to pass the kernels through multiple cycles of color, to ensure the color set properly. They used cornstarch molds to create the candy corn, and to this day, the same method is used for cand corn and for gummy worm production as well.3 It is an incredible sight to see how the candy can be dispensed into the mold but not mix with the cornstarch. Instead, the kernels nestle right on top, and the cornstarch is easily brushed away after the candy has set. Today, the candy corn forming process is much easier because a machine does all the work of coloring the kernels, in one cycle, instead of laborious hand-dying cycles.3

I have always had a love for candy corn, but after watching the ‘Candy Corn’ episode of Food Network’s “Unwrapped”, and marveling in the process of making these tiny flavor bombs, my love quickly turned into an obsession.5 Did you know that October 30th is ‘National Candy Corn Day’? We get an entire day dedicated to the celebration of the original “chicken feed” sugary confection. I think it is very cool that this classic candy had such an impact on the world, it got its’ very own holiday.  The original recipe for candy corn uses fondant and marshmallow cream. Since this confection is so well known, some candy companies try to recreate the recipe using different ingredients. For example, the Brach’s brand uses honey to make their candy corn thicker and sesame oil to give the confection a nuttier taste.

Being a self-proclaimed candy corn connoisseur, I am always aghast at how many people dislike the taste of candy corn or think it’s overrated. Maybe it is because it has been around for so long, or maybe it is the different varieties of recipes floating around that have tainted their taste buds, or it could be that people just are not into that delicious buttery and nutty marshmallow flavor. All I have to say about candy corn haters is, “more for me!”


[1] https://www.candyindustry.com/articles/90039-nca-reveals-how-people-like-to-eat-candy-corn

[2] https://www.pennlive.com/food/2020/10/who-enjoys-candy-corn-the-most-really-we-didnt-think-anybody-liked-it.html

[3] https://alwaysatreat.com/candy-moments/halloween-central/everything-candy-corn/#:~:text=Candy%20corn%20has%20existed%20for,and%20continues%20the%20tradition%20today.

[4] https://www.history.com/news/candy-corn-invented

[5] “How Candy Corn is Made,” Unwrapped, Food Network, 2008. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgTvgQfcllM

[6] Featured Image 1: Pixabay, Creator SamBeAwesome

[7] Featured Image 2: How to Eat Candy Corn, National Confectioners Association

About the Author: Ciara Danay Gradillas

The author is pursuing her graduate education at California State University, Fresno in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition. She currently serves as the Vice President of the Food Science and Culinology Club. In her free time, she enjoys eating candy corn. Obviously.




Science Meets Food

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