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Halloween's #1 Treat: Candy Corn
You know it's almost Halloween when you start seeing bags of tri-colored candy corn (CC) in the grocery stores. If you're like me, you pretty much ignore the 2-lb bags of Hershey's minis, 3 Musketeers and Kit Kats and dive straight for the CC. I mean really, you can get chocolate any old day of the year. But candy corn... mmmmmmmmm. For my money, one bag of CC is worth a California-king pillowcase stuffed with any other treat.
Halloween brings out the sugar fiend in all of us
When it comes to trick-or-treating, kids will pretty much take anything you care to dish out. But CC is Halloween candy for grownups. I'm serious. Have you noticed how your kids can pretty much take it or leave it (which is great -- all the more for us moms and dads!)? Why might that be? Let's start with the fact that candy corn is "old school" and it's "classic." It was introduced in the 1880s and its shape and composition haven't changed since. The only thing that's changed is it's now machine-made. Back when, men called "stringers" walked backwards pouring the candy into cornstarch trays imprinted with the kernel shape. Awww. How quaint!
Corn, Chocolate or Other?
What's Your favorite Halloween candy?
This ain't your daughter's Halloween candy
By and large, today's kids don't share that sense of nostalgia for the classics of our youth (and why should they -- they're still young themselves.). Or it could be they have more discriminating candy palates. Raised on Skittles, Gummis and Warheads, they dismiss candy corn as not sufficiently multi-colored, gelatinous, uber-tart ... or just plain weird.
When I bite into a CC nugget I taste a dense little wedge of sweet autumn sunshine. What does my son taste? Judging by his expression, a pretty lame excuse for a candy rush. Who knows? There may be something about the exact combination of sugar, corn syrup, fondant and marshmallow that only adults can appreciate. Kinda like those high-pitched tones that only people under 30 can hear, only in reverse.
It's Here! It's Here!
Candy corn economics: the law of supply and demand
There's definitely the "exclusivity" factor as well. It's human nature to covet that which is rare or unobtainable. I remember as a kid growing up in New York a neighbor's dad traveled to Colorado and brought home a six-pack of Coors beer. In those days, Coors was only available west of the Rockies. Well, I tell you, we kids stood in awe of this wondrous brew made with pure Rocky Mountain spring water (or whatever the advertising claim was then). I grew up convinced that Coors was superior to any beer available locally. Many years later I discovered what the fuss was all about. By then my taste had turned to wine, and I remember being turned onto Beaujolais nouveau. Talk about seasonal hoopla! This light-bodied, fruity red (actually light purple) wine is fermented only a few weeks, then "officially" released for sale on the third Thursday of November (Thanksgiving, here in the states) on "Beaujolais Day." If it weren't for Beaujolais Day, how many people would ever give it a second sip?
I do believe there's a similar phenomenon at work with candy corn. If it were available year-round, some of its cachet would rub off (leaving a sticky orange/yellow mess). If it weren't so closely associated with Halloween, would we be tempted to toss it back by the handful in, say, the middle of April or August?
Perhaps so. That point is highly debatable.
Voice Your Corn-cern
They now make reindeer corn, cupid corn and bunny corn.How do you feel about that?
Makes me really wanna corn out
I say this because of the highly addictive nature of candy corn. I will readily admit to being one who consumes CC like Lays potato chips (betcha can't eat just one ...bag). But until today, I had never felt the remotest curiosity about CC ingredients. As far as I knew (or cared), candy corn was made of white sugar, orange sugar and yellow sugar.
Then, while reading about its history, I saw the word "fondant" listed as one of the ingredients. Fondant? I had to look it up. And here's what I discovered:
Fondant: "An icing made out of gelatin, confectioners sugar and water. A very smooth and malleable icing that dries hard. Not for the amateur (indeed!!). This icing isn't put on with a knife, but rather rolled to a uniform thickness and then laid over the cake. It can also be used for detail work such as making intricate flowers. A fondant-covered cake can be spotted by its rounded edges."
Already you can see that fondant is pretty lofty stuff. But wait, there's more:
"Fondant, as used for candy-making, forms the basic foundation of after-dinner mints, peppermint patties and chocolate-covered cherries, as well as candy corn. Fondant is also the basis of most chocolate-covered creams."
After-dinner mints? Chocolate-covered cherries? Have you ever seen anyone under 45 eat either one of these? Me neither. No wonder candy corn, being a "fondant candy," holds such limited appeal for young people.
Satisfy Your Urge for Sugar
You won't catch me taking candy from my babies
So at the end of the night, the kids can keep their haul. I may sneak a peek just to see what's "hot" this year. But they needn't worry about old Mom. I know there's plenty of chocolate in my holiday future.
Everything I need to satisfy my Halloween sweet tooth is right here in this bag. Oh... and the three more I stashed ... just in case they ran out before October 31st.
Happy Halloween Everyone!