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The Sweet History of Halloween’s Iconic Treat

The Sweet History of Halloween’s Iconic Treat

Candy corn may be the most controversial treat of the fall season. You either think of the tri-colored candy with nostalgic feelings or you are put off by its waxy texture or the sweet flavor. Whatever your opinions on the candy are, you probably do not immediately think of its deep history. A recent article from CAES Newswire featuring UGA Food Technology Professor William Kerr explains how the treat became one of the most iconic symbols of fall.

The Sweet History

Candy corn was created in the 1800s, a time when many candy companies were making candies inspired by agriculture, to market to children in rural communities. George Renninger who was an employee of the Wunderle Candy Company is credited with inventing the candy, however it was the Goelitz Candy Company that actually first sold the candy.

Candy corn was not the original name of the sweet. It was called “Chicken Feed” as corn was primarily fed to chickens and pigs before World War I. It was not until the 1950s when candy began to play a larger role in celebrating Halloween that candy corn was advertised as a Halloween candy.

Kernels from Dr. Kerr

Online professor William Kerr shared, in the CAES Newswire article, some unique facts about the polarizing candy. Candy corn has a familiar flavor, but it is not easy to place. Kerr explained the technical flavor is buttercream, which is a mix of sugar, butter, honey and vanilla. He helped explain why the texture of candy corn is unlike other candies, comparing it to a firm marshmallow.

The texture is formed during the process of making candy corn. Candy corn falls between a soft and a hard candy, so the cooking temperatures vary. The process of making the treat has not changed significantly between the 1900s and now. “Stringers” which are candy makers, would walk backwards and pour the mixture into treys with the kernel impressions. Now, the process is similar but machines do the pouring.

Informative “Goodies” 

Because of its long history, candy corn has earned an iconic status around fall. Here are some fun facts about the treat!

  • October 30th is National Candy Corn day
  • Goelitz Candy Company, which originally sold the candy, is now known as the Jelly Belly company. They have a candy corn flavored jelly bean to pay tribute to their history.
  • 17,000 tons of candy corn are produced each year

Food Technology is a larger part of society than you may realize. Learn more about this interesting field and how your undergraduate science background could turn into an unexpected career.