Thursday, November 1, 2012

Candy Corn, a 19th Century Treat

Thursday, November 1, 2012
Isabella reporting:

Admit it: how many of you are in post-Halloween-sugar-shock today?

While modern candy-makers offer scores of new treats every year, there's one that's stood the test of time: candy corn. According to the food experts at Gourmet magazine, candy corn was first created in the 1880s as the culinary brain-child of Philadelphia's Wunderle Candy Company. Nineteenth century candy-lovers were already gobbling sugary treats in the shapes of vegetables, fruit, and other plants, and Wunderle owner George Renninger suggested the company try kernels of corn next. This was more a marketing challenge than a candy-making one, for Americans at the time regarded corn as feed for livestock, not people, and very little was consumed on polite dining tables. But Wunderle's tri-color layering captivated buyers, and the new little candies were an immediate hit. Originally linked to harvest and available only in the fall months, candy corn soon became connected with Halloween as well, and as Halloween as a holiday grew in popularity in the 20th c., so did candy corn: today the industry sells more than 35 million pounds of candy corn each year. That's one sweet treat.

The delightful Halloween postcard, below, comes from the collection of the Toronto Public Library. Printed in 1909 in Germany for the American market, this postcard is only one that the library shared on its blog here - definitely worth a look!


Elizabeth Kerri Mahon said...

Wonderful post! I've had a few bags of candy corn that tasted as if they'd been around since the 19the century.

looloolooweez said...

Super interesting! I just love candy corn. I've even been known to swap my Snickers for some during the traditional Trick-or-Treat bounty examination. But I didn't know all that about it.

Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott said...

Loretta and I both have admitted to an unspeakable craving for candy corn - even before we knew it was a historical treat. And I bet we're not the only ones who stuck the kernels up under our upper lips like vampire fangs, right? :)

Anonymous said...

I didn't realize that Americans at that time thought corn was livestock food--although Europeans still feel that way about it today. Any idea how it came to be a normal part of the American diet?

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing.

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