Snickers. Jolly ranchers. Jelly beans. Gummi bears. What’s your favorite Halloween candy? Are you old school, and love candy corn and licorice? Or are you into extremely sour – or hot – candy? Today, as we continue our Halloween week, it’s all about candy, including the origins of trick-or-treating, retro candy and stories behind some of your favorites. A candy historian and an insider from the candy industry joins us with some “sweet” facts and to field your calls. What do you consider the best and worst candy? Got any favorite Halloween candy memories? Guest: Susan Benjamin: Candy historian Owner of True Treats Author of “Sweet as Sin: The Unwrapped Story of How Candy Became America’s Favorite Pleasure” Town Square with Ernie Manouse is a gathering space for the community to come together and discuss the day’s most important and pressing issues.
This Halloween, I was inundated with interviews about all aspects of candy, not just Trick o’ Treat. From the wildly different questions and comments came one theme: a contempt for Candy Corn. Personally, I don’t get it. Candy Corn is a harmless, gentle member of the candy family with not a ting of scandal unlike, say, the false razor-blade-in-apple-scandal.
Besides, history proves the magnificence, if not longevity, of Candy Corn. The yellow, orange and white pyramid candies began as “Chicken Feed” in 1888, made by the Wunderle Company, the candies were of the same marshmallow-ish texture of other popular sweets of the time – Circus Peanuts, Cream Candy, and Marshmallow Biscuits ie., caramel covered marshmallows, among them.
Candy Corn was unique, however, in its fall colors and corn-like look, helping it transition from an everyday candy to a Halloween extravaganza. The reason: early Halloweens, while ribboned with ghostly stories and wild pranks, were more like Harvest Festivals with sumptuous nuts, fruits, and other seasonal delights. The Candy Corn fit in.
True, for generations Candy Corn remained a penny candy mingling well with the jelly beans and gummies on the shelves beside it. Today, candy corn is primarily made by Brach’s Confections and Jelly Belly, with around nine billion pieces enjoyed (or not, as the case may be) each year, most of it during Halloween.