Discover the Story Behind the Colorful Treat Candy Corn: A Journey from Creation to Halloween Tradition

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Candy corn is a small, pyramid-shaped candy known for its waxy texture and distinct tri-color design—typically a white tip, an orange center, and a yellow base. This sugary treat has become synonymous with Halloween and the fall season in North America, thanks to its sweet blend of honey, sugar, butter, and vanilla.

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The origins of candy corn date back to the late 1880s, when George Renninger, an employee at the Wunderle Candy Company, invented the candy. Wunderle was the first to produce it in 1888. By 1898, the Goelitz Confectionery Company, now known as Jelly Belly, began manufacturing candy corn. Today, the largest producer of candy corn is Brach’s Confections, owned by Ferrara Candy Company, which churns out around 7 billion pieces each year, holding an 85% share of the candy corn market during the Halloween season.

Originally called “Chicken Feed,” candy corn was designed to resemble corn kernels, reflecting America’s rural roots. The concept of “butter cream” candies in various nature-inspired shapes, like chestnuts and turnips, was popular in the late 19th century. What set candy corn apart was its iconic tri-color layering, symbolizing the colors of the fall harvest.

Candy corn wasn’t always tied to Halloween. For much of the 20th century, it was a popular “penny candy,” available year-round. However, in the 1950s, it became closely associated with Halloween as trick-or-treaters started receiving individually wrapped candies, and advertising during October increased. The National Confectioners Association has since designated October 30 as “National Candy Corn Day.”

Despite its enduring popularity, candy corn elicits mixed reactions, often described as a candy you either “love” or “hate.” Originally made by hand, candy corn production involved mixing sugar, corn syrup, water, fondant, and marshmallows to form a sweet slurry, which was then poured into molds for the three-colored sections. The process, known as “corn starch modeling,” remains the same, though it is now automated.

Beyond the classic candy corn, various holiday-themed variations have emerged, such as “harvest corn” with a chocolate brown base, “reindeer corn” with a red end for Christmas, and “cupid corn” with pink for Valentine’s Day. Other flavors have been introduced over the years, like caramel apple, s’mores, and even tailgate-inspired flavors like fruit punch, vanilla ice cream, popcorn, hotdog, and hamburger.

Candy corn’s influence extends to other snacks, with candy corn-flavored Oreos, M&M’s, and marshmallows among the many variants available. While polarizing, candy corn remains an iconic treat that continues to evoke the spirit of Halloween and the fall season.

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