An ode to candy corn

 

There is something about candy corn that makes me want to keep eating it endlessly, even though it’s kind of disgusting. For whatever reason when I bite into a kernel of candy corn, and I feel my teeth sink into that waxy, solid, sort of flavorless sugar mass, I think, “Why the hell am I doing this?” But soon I’m chomping away on and actually enjoying it. Candy corn are the Lay’s potato chip of candy; “Betcha can’t eat just one.”

The reason I am doing it, of course, is I am addicted to sugary candy and have always been since the time I was a little boy. I’m assuming when I tasted my first piece of candy, my baby eyes dilated and I zoned out for a minute just bathing in the sugary high I experienced, and I was hooked. And over the years I’ve eaten a lot of candy, including candy corn.

But the more I eat candy corn, the sort of sweet, sort of salty and savory flavor kind of takes me hostage, it buries me and I can’t get away, like the roots of a field of candy corn pulling me under the soil and trapping me FOREVER in the moldy, worm ridden soil of a haunted corn field…spooky Halloween imagery, huh? 

And it’s not exactly like you can get away from the stuff. There are dishes of the stuff on every office reception counter in America I would bet, bushels of the stuff, waiting for sugar addicts like me to pop a few in their mouth, when they know there are other more modern civilized and delicious candies to be had. By the way, don’t let the little “mallow cream pumpkins” trick you into thinking you’re NOT eating candy corn because it’s friggin’ candy corn just in a different shape.

The Great Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare, is said to have once written, and I paraphrase, that “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet?” Well the newspaper Editor Jason Ogden says “Candy corn by any other shape, especially a pumpkin, is just fat candy corn.”

Who the heck even thought that corn would make an interesting candy, or be fun for children? Maybe they invented candy corn to get children to try to eat real corn during their day-to-day lives? I know that are millions of kids who do not want to eat that stuff off their dinner plate; I didn’t as a kid either Maybe candy manufacturers decided to make candy look like corn to trick the children into eating supper, hoping that maybe their parents would slip and give them the candy version instead of the stuff that was previously growing out in their yard.

Some Internet sleuthing led me to a story published in Better Homes and Gardens and according to that information, and oral tradition, the brainchild behind candy corn was none other than, George Renninger, a candy maker at the Wunderlee Candy Company in Philadelphia who created the stuff first in the 1880s. It was originally called “Chicken Feed” and the box had a colorful rooster on it, with a tagline of “Something worth crowing over.” 

Maybe it was the pun that made the candy so popular, or maybe kids in the 1880s thought it was real great fun to eat what mom and dad were feeding their future Sunday dinner. Regardless, candy corn, by that name and others, has remained extremely popular since its inception, and yearly there is more than 17,000 tons of candy corn produced, according to the National Confectioners Association.  

That is more than 35 million pounds (or 9 billion pieces) of candy corn made for hungry children, or disappointed roosters, who probably prefer the real thing. The candy is so popular in Michigan, according to CandyStore.com, it was only this year that candy corn was dethroned as Michigan’s new favorite candy.

According to that site, this year the state’s favorite candy (determined based on sales of various candy over the last decade or so) is Starburst. What is it with Michiganders and wanting to chew waxy/sugary confections? 

If you’re a candy corn lover, do not fret, the candy made to look like a vegetable, is still the state’s second favorite candy this year, and with Halloween fast approaching, I’m sure you’ll have ample opportunity to pop a few kernels and enjoy the sugary, savory, caramel, salty, and whatever the heck flavor candy corn is in the coming weeks.

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