With its iconic tri-colored, cone-shaped appearance, candy corn has been around for over 130 years, making it one of the oldest commercially produced candies in the country. Today, this iconic treat is among the most popular Halloween candies in the United States.
The exact origins of candy corn are unknown, but it is believed to have been invented in the 1880s by a candymaker named George Renninger. Renninger worked at the Wunderle Candy Company in Philadelphia. According to the National Confectioners Association, Wunderle was the first company to sell these multi-colored treats made of sugar and corn syrup.
A few years later, in 1898, Gustav Goelitz of the Goelitz Candy Company picked up on the recipe. He started to sell the kernels as a candy called “Chicken Feed.” The name was selected because, before World War I, most people didn’t consider corn food for humans. It was a popular penny candy in the early 20th century and was often sold in bulk at candy stores and general stores.
In the 1950s, candy corn began to be associated with Halloween. This was due in part to the growing popularity of trick-or-treating. Candy corn was also featured in popular Halloween movies and television shows, such as the 1966 cartoon It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
How candy corn is made
Initially, the candy was made by hand. Manufacturers combined sugar, corn syrup, and water and cooked them to form a slurry. Fondant was added for texture, and marshmallows were added to provide a soft bite. The final mixture was heated and poured into shaped molds. Three passes, one for each colored section, were required during the pouring process.
Candy corn today
Candy corn remains one of the most popular Halloween candies in the United States. It is estimated that over 35 million pounds of candy corn are sold each year. People worldwide also enjoy candy corn, and it is now available in various flavors, such as chocolate, mint, and cherry.