Please Pass the Candy Corn

What brings back fond childhood holiday memories for almost everybody? A Christmas tree or perhaps searching for hidden Easter eggs in your backyard? Fourth of July sparklers or Valentine hearts? For me, a full-fledged Baby Boomer, the overpoweringly sweet taste of those golden pieces of Halloween delight. Yes, I am talking about candy corn, the Nirvana of gustatory bliss..

Believe it or not, candy corn has been around since the 1880s. Invented by George Renninger of the Wunderlee Candy Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, this burgeoning candy creation was soon to be associated with the Goelitz Confectionary Company who began commercially producing it in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1898. The rest is candy history..

Back at the turn of the 20th century, producing candy involved backbreaking labor since highly mechanized production had yet to make its grand entrance. Everything was done by hand for only eight months per year, from March to November. Workers poured the primary ingredients of sugar, water, and corn syrup into big heated kettles, stirring the mixture into a slurry. Next, fondant (for smooth texture)
Please Pass the Candy Corn
and marshmallows (for a soft bite) were added in. Upon reaching the proper texture, the mixture was poured into hand-held buckets called "runners". The runners were rather heavy to lift, weighing in at 45 pounds each.

Workers called "stringers" had the task of pouring scalding candy, while walking backward, into cornstarch-covered trays imprinted with molds the shape of a kernel of corn. The stringers had to make three passes at these trays, one pass for each color - white, orange, and yellow - of the candy corn. I cannot imagine how hot and sticky the workers were; I cannot even sit in my car without the
AC on full blast.

At last, the candy corn was ready to be packed and shipped by wagon or train, for relatively short distances. Distribution was limited by the perishability of the candy. Anyone for a melted blob of white, orange, and yellow candy?.

The novel tri-colored candy was rather revolutionary in its concept. Residents of the agricultural USA were intrigued and could not get enough candy corn quickly enough.It was a true hit. It was so popular that other candy businesses attempted to make other vegetable shapes, including the turnip.An American tradition was born.

Candy corn production is very similar in the present, except that it is virtually a totally mechanical process. No more lugging huge tubs of the treat. Using a method called the cornstarch molding process, trays with depressions are now filled with corn starch syrup in three stages,from the bottom up. First, yellow syrup fills the depressions one quarter full and then permitted to partially set. The second stage fills the depressions with orange syrup and for the final touch, the mold is completed with the white syrup and set aside to cool. It is time for the candy corn to gel together. Upon total cooling, the trays are relieved of their sugary delights and are ready to be consumed with gusto.

Candy Corn Trivia:

One piece of candy corn has a mere 3.57 calories. That is great news for us Baby Boomers (and everyone else) who cannot stop at only one kernel!.

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