It’s been a Halloween staple for decades, yet today it’s reviled as “Satan’s earwax” and “garbage”, liked only by “hobos, serial murderers, and Satan”. In fact, recent research conducted by Candystore.com ranked candy corn as the worst candy in 2020.

“Sorry, kids. I’m all out of chocolate bars but if you wait just a second, I might just have the thing.”

Okay we get it. You don’t like candy corn, but “Satan’s earwax”? Really?

Candy corn really isn’t actually that bad, and with around 35 million pounds of candy corn being sold each year, somebody other than hobos, serial killers, Satan, and the people of Michigan and North Dakota must be eating it. So, what gives?

Clearly, Michigan and North Dakota can’t be eating all of the candy corn.

Well, before we answer that, let’s take a deeper look into candy corn and how it all came about.

The Origins of Candy Corn

Although the origins of candy corn are a little sketchy, oral tradition claims George Renniger , an employ of the Wunderle Candy Company (yep, they’re still in business) first used the tri-color, hand-layering technique to make this unique confection they called “Chicken Corn”. However, the product really took off in 1898 when the Goelitz Confectionary Company (which you know today as the Jelly Belly Candy Company) bought the recipe and began making it on a much larger scale while marketing it as “Chicken Feed”. The popular candy even featured a rooster on its packaging because at the time candy corn was invented, corn wasn’t yet seen as people food, which leads us to another question.

The original candy corn packaging illustration.

Why Corn?

So, if corn wasn’t seen as food fit for humans, then why make the kernel-shaped candy and use chicken-centric marketing? Well, that’s because in the late 19th century, half of the American work force was made up farmers. As a result, candy companies of the time marketed their agrarian-themed candies shaped like corn, chestnuts, pumpkins, clovers and, yes, even turnips towards farmers and their families. In fact, the only thing that set candy corn apart from the other crop-themed candies was the fact that the candy corn was tri-colored. Nobody had seen a candy like it before with its white, yellow and orange stripes – a feature that remained matchless for years because of the labor intensive work that went into making it.

We reckon y’all could be hating on candy carrots.

Candy Corn and Halloween

For years after its invention, Chicken Feed was marketed all year long. (In fact, “The candy all children love to nibble on all year long”! was its slogan for awhile.) However, it was after the rationing of sugar was lifted in the late post-war 1940s that trick-or-treating really started taking off in America and the white, orange and yellow harvest colors of candy corn seemed to be a perfect fit for the Halloween season. Well, that and Goelitz seeing the end-of-October holiday as a perfect opportunity to increase its advertising leading up to Halloween. As a result, Americans began to associate candy corn with Halloween.

Today, nothing says Halloween quite like candy corn.

Today, as we mentioned before, companies like Jelly Belly and Brach’s Candy collectively produce 35 million pounds (or 9 billion kernels) of candy corn each year using the exact same candy corn recipe (sugar and corn syrup, fondant, confectioner’s wax, and various other additions, like vanilla flavor or marshmallow crème) that was used by Wunderle back when George Renniger invented candy corn. Actually, the only difference between then and now is that today’s candy corn is made by machines instead of men.

So, If It’s That Good, Then Why All the Haters?

Something just doesn’t add up for us. With so much candy corn being produced every year on one hand, and so much obvious hatred for it on the other, this can only mean two things: either people are throwing out approximately 17,500 tons of candy corn every November 1, or the haters aren’t exactly being up in their disdain candy corn. Both are terrible conclusions and the facts and figures tend to show that the former is improbable as we haven’t heard anything from the various American sanitation workers unions complaining about how people are just throwing garbage bags full of candy corn by the tons in their city streets the day after Halloween. 

Indeed, the latter is much more likely in that those who are speaking out against candy corn are only saying they don’t like it because they think it’s cool to hate on it when in actuality their probably hoarding under their mattresses at Halloween so they can enjoy it year round. After all, what’s not to like?

“Hey! Be cool like me. Hate candy corn!”

Do the haters stop to ask themselves, “What is candy corn made of?” It’s actually made up of several ingredients, including sugar, corn syrup, confectioner’s glaze, salt, dextrose, gelatin, sesame oil, artificial flavor and colors. You know what else is made from nearly these same ingredients? Gummy bears, gummy worms, gummy bottles, gummy sharks and all of that other gummy candy you love to get on Halloween. Incidentally, jelly beans are also made from nearly the same ingredients as candy corn, but they’re not topping the list of worst candies for Easter. (Okay, maybe the black ones).

In fact, we’re thinking about petitioning the Easter Bunny to start delivering candy corn flavored jelly beans at Easter.

As far as being the Devil’s earwax or a candle flavored candy, well, that’s just wrong. It gets its texture because, as it cooks, the sugar in the candy crystallizes making them somewhat chewy and crumbly at the same time. Yes, it is lightly coated with confectioners wax to give it a nice sheen, but not nearly as much as, say, a jelly beans outer coating.

So what’s the real reason behind all this vitriol against candy corn?

Phil Lempert, otherwise known as The Supermarket Guru, has his own theory – it’s a generational thing. Remember when we said earlier that it was after World War II that both trick-or-treating and candy corn took off? Well, this also happened to also be the time of the Baby Boomer generation when there was a post-World War increase in the number of babies being born in the USA. So for Boomers, candy corn was a delicious treat that they only got once a year while trick-or-treating and eating candy corn today brings back memories of their childhood, much the same way that Gen X (the generation after the Boomers who were born between 1966 and 1979) rushes out to by the General Mills Monster cereals (Frankenberry, Count Chocula, and Boo Berry) every Halloween season. It reminds them of a time when they were younger and life seemed simpler.

And believe us, Gen X loves them some monster cereal every Halloween.

So, now can all of you haters (if that’s what you really are) just let boomers (and the rest of us) enjoy their candy corn in peace and turn your candy ire elsewhere like black jelly beans or something because candy corn is awesome!

You know what’s a favorite treat not only at Halloween, but also all year round? That’s right – Stuckey’s pecan log roll! So if you’re taking the kids out trick-or-treating this year, don’t forget to stop by your local Stuckey’s location and treat yourself with a few pecan log rolls – now at 10 ounces and 10 inches, they’re the biggest Stuckey’s pecan rolls ever. Why not pick up some other fine pecan candies and other Stuckey’s merchandise while you’re there for the folks back home.

No tricks. Only treats at Stuckey’s.

No Stuckey’s near you? Well, it’s no trick and we’re here to deliver the treats right to your door just in time for Halloween. And don’t forget that Stuckey’s caps, t-shirts, and mugs  make great gifts for the upcoming holidays. Visit us at stuckeys.com now to find out more.