Each Halloween, purveyors, venders and inventors of new confectionery delicacies sell their creations to eager candy aficionados in North America. For almost 140 years, candy corn has stood out as the supernatural holidays staple delight. It is to Halloween what egg-nog is to the Christmas season and what turkey is to an all-american Thanksgiving dinner. Each year, candy corn sales surge in October during this sugar fueled time of year.
Candy Corn was first formed by George Renniger of the Wunderle Candy Company in the mid 1880’s. It primarily consists of sugar, corn syrup, confectioner’s wax, candle wax and honey. Candy Corn is made through dumping all these ingredients into a vat, heating until the ingredients form a slurry and pouring the mix into a mold. This is known as corn-starch molding. The recipe and manufacture of candy corn has remained largely the same for the past 140 years of production.
Today, candy corn is manufactured in a wide variety of flavors by scores of different distributors. One such manufacturer is Brach’s, which produces a variety of candy corn for supermarket giant Target. This includes the original recipe, French Toast and Maple Syrup, Waffles and Strawberry and Chocolate Chip and Pancakes, all of which I have tasted and reviewed.
Classic Candy Corn
First up is the original recipe pioneered by Renniger himself. It is the basic staple of Halloween. The first thing I noticed upon biting into the candy is the texture itself, which reminded me of day old frosting off an office birthday cake. Though initially hard and solid, the candy easily gives way to the teeth and seems to melt like butter in ones mind, forming into a mass of sugar and wax on the tongue. After this, the distinct snap of sweetness that only honey can provide permeates the already pulverized mash in the mouth. This honey forms the backbone of the aftertaste with a subtle hint of something oily, the sort of oily that only a mass-production factory could provide. Overall, America’s staple Halloween candy is not quite up to par with the newer, hipper, designer candy of a new age of mass-produced sweets.
French Toast and Maple Syrup Candy Corn
When biting into the caramel and yellow striped French Toast and Maple Syrup Candy Corn, the immediate explosion of maple flavor is the first thing I noticed. It is highly overpowering, it settles on the tongue and the taste lingers at the back of the throat for half an hour after being consumed. The brunch inspired flavor is more of a non-descript syrup flavor than any complete breakfast sweet dish. The kind of maple in this candy is more like maple sausage than maple syrup. The flavor is reminiscent of cafeteria pancakes drowning in off-brand pancake syrup poured out of an old diner syrup container that leaves your hands and fingers ever so slightly sticky after picking it up. The taste is quite difficult to remove from one’s mouth, as such, it would probably be best to skip this novelty flavor.
Waffles and Strawberry Candy Corn
The pink and brown striped Waffles and Strawberry Candy Corn is next out of the bag. The strawberry flavor brings a bit more a subtle fruity note than the sickeningly sweet affair of French Toast and Maple Syrup Candy Corn. It is clear that the same flavoring used to create the French toast effect is again present to create the waffle effect. The strawberry flavoring is reminiscent of store brand strawberry ice cream or strawberry sundae topping. One thing is certain, this flavor does not do strawberry or waffles justice.
Chocolate Chip and Pancakes Candy Corn
Take an Oreo cookie. Throw it in the dirt. Roll it around until the cookie mixes with the ground quite nicely. Throw some powdered sugar on top for taste. This recipe will give a good approximation of how this flavor actually tastes.