The History of Halloween Candy Corn: A Tasty Favorite for Decades

No other candy can match the creamy taste of candy corn, a sweet Halloween favorite for more than a century.

Candy corn might be the most controversial Halloween candy. In our experience, people either love it or hate it—and we're firmly in the "love it" category. We're not the only ones eating candy corn by the handful: The National Retail Federation estimated that in 2019, 95% of holiday shoppers stocked up on the tri-color treat. Not to mention it's consistently the most popular Halloween candy in multiple states.

The little yellow, orange, and white treat is an icon among holiday candies and has a legacy that goes back more than a century. Get the background on how candy corn came to be, discover fun candy corn facts, and learn all about how candy corn is made. Try our candy corn recipes and some sweet Halloween decorating ideas that feature the striped treat.

close up of multiple candy corn candies
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Where Was Candy Corn Invented?

According to oral tradition, George Renninger, a candymaker at the Wunderlee Candy Company in Philadelphia, invented the revolutionary tricolor candy in the 1880s. The Goelitz Confectionery Company brought candy corn to the masses at the turn of the 20th century. The company, now called Jelly Belly Candy Co., has the longest history in the industry of making candy corn—although the method has changed, it still uses the original recipe. In honor of its Goelitz roots, Jelly Belly developed a candy corn-flavor jelly bean.

How is Candy Corn Made?

Candy corn starts as a mixture of sugar, fondant, corn syrup, vanilla flavor, and marshmallow creme. The candy corn ingredients are melted into a liquid candy—called slurry—colored, and run through a cornstarch molding process to create each kernel. Wooden trays filled with cornstarch are imprinted with rows of candy corn molds, where the layers are individually deposited from bottom to top.

The mixture cools in the tray, which seals the three layers together. The kernels of candy corn are sifted from the trays and polished in large drum pans with edible wax and glaze to create their irresistible shine. It's also worth noting that strictly speaking, candy corn is not vegan- or vegetarian-friendly. Most formulations contain gelatin or other animal-based ingredients.

What Other Types of Candy Corn are There?

Candy corn is such a popular choice that the mellow creme candies are now available year-round in a variety of colors for other seasonal holidays. Most have the same smooth vanilla flavor as the original, but there are some flavor variations.

  • For Thanksgiving, serve fall corn, which is brown, orange, and white (the brown section is chocolate flavored).
  • Christmas-inspired reindeer corn has the classic vanilla flavor of traditional candy corn but comes in a green, white, and red colorway.
  • Celebrate Valentine's Day with cupid corn in pink, red, and white.
  • For Easter, load up on bunny corn in various pastel colors.
  • You can also find seasonal candy corn varieties in apple, pumpkin spice, and cinnamon flavors.

Fun Candy Corn Facts

We're all familiar with the classic orange, yellow, and white treats—but some of the facts about candy corn might surprise you!

01 of 09

Candy corn isn't the treat's original name

What was candy corn originally called? Fun fact: When the Goelitz Confectionery Company first produced candy corn, it was called "Chicken Feed." The boxes were illustrated with a colorful rooster logo and a tagline that read: "Something worth crowing for."

02 of 09

Candy corn has its own national day

You don't have to wait for Halloween to indulge in the mellow creme candies. Celebrate National Candy Corn Day on October 30.

03 of 09

More than 17,000 tons of candy corn are produced each year

According to the National Confectioners Association, more than 35 million pounds (or 9 billion pieces) of candy corn are produced yearly.

04 of 09

Candy corn is one of the better-for-you Halloween candies

It contains roughly 28 grams of sugar and only 140 calories per heaping handful—and it's fat-free!

05 of 09

It has a long shelf life

Once the package is opened, store candy corn covered and away from heat and light at room temperature; it should last three to six months. If unopened, packaged candy corn will last about nine months.

Candy Corn Desserts

Whether you want to include store-bought candy corn into Halloween sweets or want to make your own version of the tri-colored treat, we found a few fun candy corn recipes to satisfy your cravings.

06 of 09

Candy Corn Cupcakes

Candy Corn Cupcakes
Jay Wilde

With a creamy vanilla flavor and bands of orange, yellow and white frosting that mimic the classic Halloween treat, these cupcakes are a delicious nod to candy corn.

07 of 09

Candy Corn Punch

Candy Corn Drink
Kritsada Panichgul

This fruity and fizzy layered drink is perfect for Halloween. It's made with lemon-flavor gelatin, mango nectar, and whipped cream—topped with a big serving of candy corn, of course.

08 of 09

Candy Corn Poke Cake

Candy Corn Poke Cake
Matthew Clark

We're used to making poke cakes with fruity fillings, so this candy corn-filled cake is next level. Melt a bag of candy corn and pour it over a simple cake (we used a box mix) for a delicious Halloween treat.

09 of 09

Halloween Dessert Nachos

Halloween Dessert Nachos with apples and candy
Matthew Clark

This colorful Halloween dessert is built on a bed of sliced apples, drizzled with caramel, and topped with all your favorite treats, like candy corn and candy eyes. Make this with leftover Halloween candy—if there's any left!

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