Sunday, October 23, 2011

Apple #554: Candy Corn

Someone brought candy corn in to work the other day, and I ate some. That sweet, smooth, creamy flavor reminded me immediately of when I was very little.

When my mom went grocery shopping, she took me with her because I was much too small to stay at home, and she told me I could have one treat at the beginning of the shopping trip. As an adult, I see this now as a clever trick to keep me occupied while she was shopping. But as a little kid, I thought, Oh boy! Whatever I want! Nearly every time, I chose candy corn. I loooved candy corn.

Candy corn. Beloved by thousands for over a century.
(Photo from Wikipedia)

Now, as the Apple Lady, I want to know how it's made.
  • Among candy makers, candy corn is considered a type of "mellow creme" which means it has no oils or fats but it's made from some type of sweetener and has a flavor that is at least marshmallow-like.
  • Candy corn doesn't just have a marshmallow-like flavor, actual marshmallow is one of its ingredients. That's what gives it that special milky, creamy consistency.
  • Recipes vary from one manufacturer to another, but in general, candy corn is made of:
  • sugar
  • water
  • corn syrup
  • some manufacturers also use honey
  • fondant (icing made of sugar, water, and corn syrup)
  • marshmallow
  • coloring
  • salt
  • gelatin and soy protein, to help it keep its shape
  • edible wax and oil glaze, for shine

In the variant candy corns with a brown layer, the brown is chocolate-flavored.
(Photo from College Candy)

  • Corn isn't actually an ingredient in candy corn, except that the molds are dusted with cornstarch, which helps the candy keep its shape and not stick to the molds.
  • Essentially, the candy corn is made upside-down. Kernel-shaped wedges are punched into trays. Then a machine called the Mogul fills the trays with the candy corn mixture or slurry. White first, then orange, then yellow.

Candy corn pumpkins: similar recipe, different mold.
(Photo from the Happy Home Fairy)

  • The trays of candy corn are left to dry, which may take 24 to 48 hours, depending on the moisture content of the mixture.
  • After they've been allowed to dry -- not too much, just enough -- the trays are brought back to the machine where they're turned over so the candy corns fall out.
  • The kernels are transferred to big bulbous metal bins called polishing pans where the glaze and wax are added. The kernels are tumbled together in the bins so that they polish each other as they bump against each other.
  • Once polished, they are bagged and labeled, boxed and shipped.
  • Remember that corn starch? It gets separated from any stray bits of candy corn, sifted, and dried so that it may be reused.

This video from the Food Network shows parts of the manufacturing process in action. My favorite part is when all the candy corns are going down the chute into those bins. Sorry about the commercial.

  • Candy corn was invented in the 1880s by a guy named George Renninger who worked for the Wunderlee Candy Company.
  • Not long afterward, a different candy company, Goelitz (go-litz) started making it on a larger scale.
  • All of the candy corn was mixed and poured by hand. People used to carry 45-pound buckets of the mixture from the mixer to the people called stringers who poured it into the molds.
  • The same company still makes candy corn, only that company today is called Jelly Belly. Actually, a lot of other companies make candy corn, too, with Brach's making the majority of it. Regardless of the manufacturer, they all do the entire thing by machine.
  • Estimates of how much candy corn is produced vary widely. Anywhere from 20 million to 35 million pounds of candy corn are made each year. Another estimate puts it at roughly 8.3 billion pieces of candy corn made per year.
  • 75% of that production is for Halloween alone.
  • But candy corn isn't just for Halloween. You can get it in different colors for various holidays -- red white and green for Christmas, pink red and white for Valentine's Day, and pastel-colored for Easter.

I have never seen "bunny corn" before, but apparently it's out there.
(Photo and bunny corn, available in 10-lb cases, from

I would also like the answer to this burning question: do you eat candy corn from the top down, or the bottom up?

Candy corn cupcakes
(Recipe and Photo from The Little Kitchen)

Additional resources:
Make your own candy corn
Easy candy corn cupcakes
Crochet little ghosts, pumpkins, and candy corn
Dress up like candy corn for Halloween
Make Candy corn vodka tonic

TLC Howstuffworks, What is candy corn and how is it made?
enotes, How Products are Made, Candy Corn
Haunted Bay, Candy Corn

1 comment:

  1. I do nibble top to bottom sometimes, but my favorite is to eat them whole, 2-3 at a time, and repeat, until I get a headache or fall asleep. I'm not very smart when it comes to candy corn.

    A coworker brought in a mix of candy corns and salted peanuts -- fantastic!

    Thanks for the info, Apple Lady.


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