What makes you think of fall? Cooler weather? Changing leaves? A few weeks ago my daughter was walking down the aisle of a well-known drug store chain. A woman clasped a package of candy to her chest and said, “Candy corn! It must be fall!”
|Tasty Traditional Treat|
Are you one of the many who consider candy corn a sign of fall? I admit I adore the tiny candies. October 30 is National Candy Corn Day. Truly! You know I wouldn't lie to you. For those of us over the age of 25 (and some of us are way over that age), when you think of Halloween candy you probably think of candy corn, those sugary little spikes of Halloween cheer. They've been around for as long as I remember and even as long as my grandparents remember, but did you know that they were invented in the 1880's?
A serving of Candy Corn is nineteen pieces, and 140 calories and has zero grams of fat. More than 35 million pounds of candy corn will be produced this year. That equates to nearly 9 billion pieces—enough to circle the moon nearly 21 times if laid end-to-end. But who's laying it end to end? At our house we're eating that sweet stuff.
|Trick or Treat for Candy Corn|
When candy corn first appeared, it was popular among farmers because of its agrarian look. The tri-color design was considered revolutionary and the public went crazy for it. Lack of machinery meant that candy corn was only made seasonally from March to November. Candy corn has remained unchanged for more than 100 years and is a favorite at Halloween.
How is Candy Corn Made?
In 1900, it was the job of many men to produce candy corn for eight months of the year. Sugar, corn syrup and other ingredients were cooked into a slurry in large kettles. Fondant and marshmallow were added to give a smooth texture and bite. The 45 pounds of hot candy was poured into buckets called runners. Men dubbed stringers walked backwards pouring the candy into cornstarch trays imprinted with the kernel shape. A strenuous job at best before the days of air-conditioning and electric fans. It took three passes to make the white, yellow and orange colors. Perishability prevented widespread distribution. Originally, candy corn was delivered by wagon in wooden boxes, tubs and cartons. I prefer my candy corn in a nice sterile wrapper, don't you?
All this strenuous labor wasn't lost on the public. It's tricolor design was considered revolutionary for its time and people flocked to buy them. Their shape was also a big selling point for the mostly agrarian population of the early 1900's. So popular was candy corn that companies tried other vegetable shapes including turnips. (What? Candy turnips? Oh, well, I like the little candy pumpkins.) The Goelitz Candy Company even had to turn orders down for lack of production capacity.
During WWI, Herman Goelitz, son of Gustav, moved to Fairfield, California to start his own company, the Herman Goelitz Candy Company. Their product? Candy Corn! The fortune of the Halloween treat would rise and fall many times as recession and boom, war and peace, and sugar rationing affected the humble confection. Throughout the hard times it was the sale of candy corn that kept the companies afloat. In the sugar crisis of the mid 1970's when the price of raw sugar skyrocketed, the company had to borrow heavily to buy sugar to keep up production. After the crisis, the market plummeted. Many companies went out of business. It was demand for candy corn that kept Goelitz from bankruptcy.
Today you won't have to look very hard to find candy corn. Computer and machine aided production have made them a plentiful staple no matter what time of year. So plentiful in fact that according to the National Confectioners Association, in 2001 candy manufacturers sold more than 20 million pounds of candy corn. Roughly 8.3 billion kernels! A popular variation called "Indian corn" features a "special" chocolate brown wide end, orange center and pointed white tip, often available around Thanksgiving. During the Halloween season, blackberry cobbler candy corn can be found in eastern Canada. Corn confectioners have introduced additional color variations suited to other holidays. Red, white, and green corn is available for Christmas. Red, pink, and white is sold at Valentines. Pastels corn is produced for Easter. Very impressive for a product that has remained virtually unchanged for well over 100 years.
While you're munching your candy corn and other Halloween goodies, why not read a good book? Any of our authors offers a great read. Ahem, you might even try my latest release, HIGH STAKES BRIDE.
video: The History Channel via You Tube
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