I get why this day would deserve its own holiday. I do. But of all the candies in all the world, I think candy corn is probably the most accepted unpopular candy out there. They are right up there with starlight mints, malted milk balls and nonpareils. They have so few fans and yet it still pops every year at Halloween as if it’s a big treat. And while some people loathe candy corn (Lola), I don’t mind it. I’ll always grab some if it’s available but I’ll do so more as a reflex rather than grabbing some out of wanting the taste in my mouth. Candy corn is there and ok, I’ll have some. That’s not the kind of kid-at-the-Willy-Wonka-factory excitement you want to see as a reaction to your candy dish. But that’s candy corn. When I was thinking about all this, I realized that candy corn was best summed up by comedian Lewis Black in one of his rants. He described it as follows:
“The worst thing about Halloween is, of course, candy corn. It’s unbelievable to me. Candy corn is the only candy in the history of America that’s never been advertised. And there’s a reason. All of the candy corn that was ever made was made in 1911. And so, since nobody eats that stuff, every year there’s a ton of it left over. And the candy corn company sends the guys to the villages and they collect out of the dumpsters all the candy corn we’ve thrown away. [Don’t worry] They wash it!! They wash it!
I’ll never forget the first time my mother gave me candy corn. She said, “Here – Lewis, this is candy corn. It’s corn that tastes like candy”. [high pitched sound] This tastes like crap! And every year since then, Halloween has returned and I, like an Alzheimer’s patient, find myself in the room, and the room has a big table in it, and on the table is a bowl of candy corn. And I look at it as if I’ve never seen it before. “Candy corn”, I think. “Corn that tastes like candy. I can’t wait”. Son of a bitch!!”
It was like he looked into my soul and saw me in my mom’s living room reaching into the candy dish. That’s all the lecturing I’ll do on the good and the bad of candy corn. I really don’t mind it on occasion and if that occasion is National Candy Corn Day, I’ll indulge for sure.
Last year I made really good cookies with candy corn. The only complaint about them was there was candy corn in the cookie. I felt making that again seemed a bit senseless. Instead, I went old school. Like a little old man, I went up the street to Rite-Aid where I bought a bag of candy corn. I used my Plenti Card to get the points. I walked out with the candy and half a ream of receipt paper and I was back home. Then I opened the bag and put them in a candy dish. We don’t really have a candy dish (maybe we do, I’m not sure), but it was a nice glass bowl which seemed decorative enough. I put it on the kitchen table and left it out for all to enjoy – the ‘all’ being me and Lola.
It was an assortment pack so it had the typical yellow, orange and white candy corn triangles, it had some that had a chocolate bottom (I think that’s technically called Indian Corn) and it had the candy pumpkins (which are called Mellowcremes – a name which Lola wants no part of). All of these are essentially made the same way – with sugar and corn syrup. They are just molded and colored differently. Of the three, the pumpkins are my favorite. I’m not sure why that is. Maybe it’s because you get a hardier bite when you chomp into one that allows for more sugar in the bite? Who knows, but a mellowcreme is actually a pretty good time. As the name suggests, it has a little more mellow taste to it than the corn. My least favorite was the Indian Corn and that’s because the chocolate at the bottom didn’t meld with the candy corn. They are two different sweet flavors and there isn’t a balance in your bite. They clash on your tongue. The candy corn on the other hand was perfectly candy corn-ish. Sweet in the syrupy way. You have to admire a candy where you can say, “I really taste the high-fructose corn syrup!” But that’s the taste. They were fresh, which is a plus and added to better flavor as well. I found you couldn’t really grab a handful and have the Indian Corn and the Candy Corn in the same bite as there would be a clash in taste. But on their own, it was as good as candy corn gets. And then, because it is the season, I did the obligatory pose of putting the candy corn in your mouth as fangs. You are almost required to this, especially on the day before Halloween, in the same way you have to put Bugles on your fingers.
Candy Corn isn’t going away anytime soon (I mean forever – obviously it will be packed away after Halloween until next autumn). It is what it is. It’s not a bad candy; there are just better candies available. Candy Corn’s seasonality makes them a victim of having to battle giant bowls of trick-or-treat candies which are put out at the same time of year. If you are reaching, you are going to go for a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup before a piece of Candy Corn. But, I suggest always giving Candy Corn a try just to give you a taste of yesteryear. I guess that’s where Candy Corn is best honored – in the realm of nostalgia and the good old days. That’s worth celebrating. Now go dust off that candy corn your grandmother packed away in the 1920’s. It’s their time to shine once again.
Next up: National Caramel Apple Day (Halloween)