What IS Candy Corn?

October 18th, 2018

In less than two weeks, many of us will face a steady stream of costumed little ones visiting our front doors and begging for something sweet to eat. Unless you want to spend the evening sitting in the dark and pretending not to be home, it’s best not to be caught empty-handed (this author cannot confirm nor deny prior experience in this department).

As much fun as it is to hand out candy, we can probably also all agree it’s fun to hold some back for our own personal consumption. What we don’t all agree on is which candy is best. One of the deepest divides on this issue has to do with candy corn, the nostalgic confection made to resemble kernels of corn. A quick, informal survey usually yields strong opinions both for and against the treat.

candy corn on an orange background

It’s hard to say why people feel so strongly about candy corn, but at least part of the reason may be that it’s difficult to even describe what it tastes like. One thing is for sure, though; the flavor and texture of candy corn is one of a kind.

So what is candy corn? Unsurprisingly, it’s mostly just sugar in various forms. When the candy was invented in the 1880s, it was made by hand from the combination of sugar, water, carnauba wax, and corn syrup, to which was added fondant and marshmallow, followed by food coloring. The mixture, which is referred to in the confection business as “mellowcreme,” was then poured into molds in three phases, resulting in the candy’s signature tri-color appearance. Neither the recipe nor the technique has changed much since then, but like most mass production processes, the candies are now made by machines.

Whether you love or hate candy corn, it’s safe to say it’s here to stay as a staple in the Halloween hall of fame. Of course, if you’re snitching some candy for yourself this 31st of October, just remember the phrase “everything in moderation.” And if you don’t get your fill, never fear. Candy makers have now released Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter versions, so you won’t have to wait until next October to partake. There are even some flavored versions available now, although purists would probably say there’s no reason to play those kinds of tricks on this favorite, old-fashioned treat.