Friday, October 26, 2012


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?

George Renninger, an employee of the Wunderlee Candy Company, invented the popular confection in the 1880s and Wunderle Candy Company of Philadelphia was the first to go into commercial production of candy corn. However, the company most closely associated with this wonderful confection is the Goelitz Confectionery Company. Founder Gustav Goelitz, a German immigrant, began commercial production of the treat in 1898 in Cincinnati and is today the oldest manufacturer of the Halloween icon.The Goelitz Candy Company is now also Jelly Belly Candy Company (Yum!) and still produces candy corn today.

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.

The process of making candy corn is very similar today, but now machines do most of the work, as shown in the video above. Manufacturers use a method called the corn starch molding process. A tray containing depressions is filled with corn starch. Candy corn is made from the bottom to the top and in three-color passes. First, the depression is filled one-quarter full with yellow syrup and allowed to partially set. Next, the orange syrup is added. The mold is then topped off with the white syrup and is cooled. The candy now can gel together. After is it has finished cooling, the trays are emptied and the little candy corns are ready to be eaten.

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

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Fun post, Caroline! I'm putting off buying our halloween candy until the last minute this year. If it's in the house hubby and I eat it. Yummy but not good!

  2. Very interesting. Did you know I can taste this candy corn? Upon first look, it seems too bland and ordinary. But it has a texture and taste that is unique...and I'm stopping by Walgreen's tomorrow to get a bag! Thanks for all the background. And good luck and best wishes for your new release--love that cowboy.

  3. That video is so cool. We have the jelly belly factory not too far away and you get to see how they are made. It makes you rethink the processes that go into the treats we take for granted.

    Loved the post, Caroline.

  4. Great post, Caroline! I didn't realize candy corn went so far back. But I have to admit. I've never liked it. Too sweet! When I went trick or treating as a child, I always tossed it into my brothers' bags.

  5. Caroline, candy corn was my dad's favorite Halloween candy. We never went one Halloween without him stocking up on candy corn! LOL I love candy corn, too, but can't eat it now that I'm diabetic. Wish they'd make sugar free!


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