CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Wednesday is National Candy Corn Day, and whether you love or hate the seasonal sweet treat, there's no question it has staying power.
The first candy corn was made more than 100 years ago, but how did it become a Halloween tradition? According to the National Confectioners Association, the first candy corn was invented by an employee at the Wunderlee Candy Company, George Renninger. But it was Jelly Belly, the company now known for its iconic jelly beans, that began mass production of candy corn around 1900, using a simple recipe of sugar, corn syrup and marshmallow.
The production of candy corn required a lot of manpower in those days, too.
"Sugar, corn syrup and other ingredients were cooked into a slurry in large kettles. Fondant and marshmallow were added to give a smooth texture and bite. The 45 pounds of warm candy was poured into buckets called runners. Men dubbed stringers walked backwards pouring the candy into cornstarch trays imprinted with the kernel shape. It took three passes to make the white, yellow and orange colors," the NCA says on its website.
In those days it went by a less appetizing name, though: chicken feed, and it was sold and enjoyed year-round.
Halloween entered the picture in the 1950s, when sugar rations from World War II were lifted and children started an even bigger tradition: trick-or-treating. With kids going door to door collecting sweets, candy corn was a hit with the youngsters.
Nowadays, candy corn is made by machines instead of by hand, but the recipe hasn't changed. It's still the same sugar, corn syrup and marshmallow concoction we've all grown to love. Or hate. However you prefer your candy corn, there's no question it's quintessential Halloween that has stood the test of time.