What is Candy Corn?

Y. Chen

Candy corn is a bite-sized confection that resembles an actual kernel of corn. Invented in the 1880s by George Renninger of the Wunderlee Candy Company, it has evolved into a popular Halloween favorite. The mass production of this candy has been picked up by the Jelly Belly Candy Company and continues year-round production and sales to this day.

Corn starch is needed during the manufacturing of candy corn.
Corn starch is needed during the manufacturing of candy corn.

Candy corn was originally manually made by men whose job was specifically designated for making it eight months out of every year. The sugar slurry, fondant, and marshmallows that were part of its ingredients provided its familiar texture and softness. The mixture was poured into shaped molds that required three passes to achieve its final tri-colored scheme.

Honey is one ingredient in candy corn.
Honey is one ingredient in candy corn.

An equivalent process and ingredient list are used today, except that machines have come to replace manual labor. For example, candy corn is now largely made from sugar, corn syrup, honey, and Carnauba wax, which is a plant-derived wax that acts as a formulation aid. The machines that produce this candy do their job in depressed trays coated with corn starch. The kernels are made from bottom to top in the three passes. After the layers congeal, the trays are emptied upon cooling and the resulting candies are ready for packaging and shipping.

While the classic color scheme of candy corn is yellow on the bottom, orange in the middle, and white at the tip, manufacturers have concocted theme variations based on major holidays. The Thanksgiving holiday season brings "Indian Candy Corn," which replaces the yellow bottom with brown. Christmas season has "Reindeer Corn," containing red and green instead of yellow and orange. "Cupid Corn," replacing yellow and orange with red and pink, is sold around Valentine's Day, and multi-colored "Bunny Corn" appears around Easter holiday. Also in the United States, National Candy Corn Day is celebrated on October 30, the day right before Halloween.

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Discussion Comments


I like that candy corn has less fat and calories than other types of popular Halloween candy. Sugar free candy corn is also an option for those who are trying extra hard to cut calories, or who have dietary restrictions that doesn't allow sugar.


It wouldn't be Halloween without this favorite fall treat! I love to get a variety of flavors including original, caramel, and chocolate candy corn and mix them together in a big bowl. I keep this colorful mixture on my kitchen counter all season long for guests to enjoy when they stop by.

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