The miraculous candy corn


The first sighting of 2013 happened today… Halloween.

It’s stunning, and honestly, kind of amazing. This year I saw Christmas displays, in multiple stores, before I saw any candy corn.

If I had to vote, I’d probably be aligned with the “hate it” group on the candy corn issue. This truly is one of the few things where there are just two choices and no understood middle ground… those choices being “love it” or “hate it”… and if pressed, I’d end up saying hate it.

Earlier today though, I heard something funny. A person that makes their own chocolates and candies told me how she makes fake Butterfinger bars. Off the top of her head, the recipe for the filling involved equal parts of peanut butter and -- you know the article’s central theme, and yet you still may not be ready for this -- equal parts of peanut butter and candy corn.

She claims that it mimics the flaky, crispy filling quite well. The texture isn’t perfect, but when the combination cools the peanut butter and candy corn mixture has the taste down perfectly and does a mighty fine job approximating the treat.

Still… I haven’t tried that recipe for myself… and in general I’m just not a fan. You won’t catch me in a store, spotting a bag out of the corner of my eye, and suddenly snapping into a hypnotic state where the purchase must be made.

I must admit though, any time candy corn is offered in a social setting, I take a few pieces.

It’s a trick though. It’s always a trick.

One of those faulty logic moments where the lessons of yesterday fade, memories fail, and hope blossoms. One of those moments where I accept the candy corn, and by doing so I’m forgetting the disappointments of yesterday and preparing to enjoy a special treat. After all… I like candy! What I’m left with, along with a flood of returning memories, is the realization that I don’t like candy corn.

The history of candy corn dates back more than 130 years. And while there seems to be debate about the true first batch of the creation, most stories journey to Philadelphia, where George Renninger is generally accepted as the inventor. Funny thing though… George invented the candy while working for the Wunderlee Candy Company, and yet it’s a group called the Goelitz Confectionary Company that is credited with bringing the seasonal tradition to the masses and a nation-wide distribution.

Goelitz at one time marketed the product under the name Chicken Feed. And, believe it or not, you know of the Goelitz group… which now goes by the name Jelly Belly.

According to what I’ve found looking up some details for this piece, in 1950, Goelitz had a plant in New Jersey that was the site of one of the largest fires related to candy in history. And yes, the plant was working on candy corn just before Halloween when the flames began.

These days, I’ve seen estimates from the National Confectioners Association that the total weight of candy corn produced annually crosses the thirty-five million pound mark… yes, that’s 35,000,000-pounds of candy corn. (Which comes out to a total exceeding 9 billion pieces.)

I always wonder when you see those details that claim something’s production will “circle the Earth forty-seven times”… “cover the distance to the moon and halfway back”… and other such thoughts.

Have you ever checked out the distance on a roll of tape or ball of twine? When you consider all of the things given credit as reaching around the world as far as production… from envelopes to automobiles, canned tomatoes to cords for phone chargers… how can there be enough materials on the planet to allow the production of every one to stretch to Mars and back?

Exaggeration? Sure. But nine… BILLION… pieces. Of candy corn!

And that’s stuff no one is even eating.

Ok… I suppose someone is eating it. You don’t place nine billion pieces end to end, to Maine to Alaska and back three or four thousand times (or something like that), if you aren’t going to sell a few. And, apparently it’s a key ingredient in creating a candy bar at home. So it has that going for it.

You’re not fooling me again though. This year, even though Tigg likes it, I don’t expect to be trying any candy corn. (Although a Butterfinger does sound good.)

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