I stopped by the grocery store for a few items over the weekend and nearly tripped over a display of Halloween candy…surefire proof that “fall” is coming! I ignored the M&M’s and Snickers and gummy worms but did grab a bag of that most wondrous of holiday treats, candy corn.
Not even politics inspire as much heated debate as candy corn. There’s no middle ground here, no reaching across the aisles and putting aside partisan differences when it comes to this tri-colored treat: you either love it or loathe it. In our household, I’m the lover and Tara’s the loather. This shouldn’t surprise anybody.
I wasn’t always a fan of candy corn. Growing up, I lumped it in with broccoli and country music, i.e., things with no redeeming qualities. Nowadays, I really dig broccoli—Tara microwave-steams it in chicken broth, which is quite tasty—and I can tolerate country music (more so Chris Stapleton or Lucinda Williams than, say, Toby Keith, but at least that’s progress). And candy corn is a seasonal splurge I look forward to with an intensity that’s almost embarrassing. I no longer indulge in sweets with the same fervor as nine-year-old Mark did—my dance with diabetes cured me of that—but I always make an exception for candy corn. I find everything about it appealing: the taste, the color, the texture—even the smell. Candy corn represents autumn, which I’m betting is everybody’s favorite season. Like Tom Hanks, it’s universally adored. I submit as evidence the following:
(Watch, you’ll all vote for something silly like spring just to spite me, but I’ll know the truth.)
Candy corn is even more synonymous with Halloween, which might not be everybody’s favorite holiday, but there’s no denying it’s a lot more fun than stuffy ol’ Arbor Day for chrissakes. Think about it: it’s the one day of the year in which you get to wear a mask and nobody gives you a second glance!!
In any case, I think candy corn is a perfectly engineered food product. It was invented in the 1880s by an employee of the Wunderle Candy Company in Philadelphia named George Renninger and contains just a few simple ingredients: sugar, corn syrup, fondant (for texture), marshmallows (for softness), and wax (for lighting in the event of a power outage). I’m sorry, but any food that can double as an emergency beacon that might potentially save your life is just downright cool.
Interestingly, when I first blogged about my love of candy corn back in 2012, Michael Wunderle (heir to the candy empire) found my post and left a rather lengthy comment. Here’s an excerpt:
I stumbled upon this blog in an attempt to verify my father’s long standing claim that his great grandfather, Philip Justus Wunderle, was head of a candy factory that invented candy corn…While I may not be able to truthfully say “my great grandfather invented candy corn,” as I bragged about a few times in kindergarten, I can lay claim the king of candy corn throne via direct ancestry. Sadly, for those of you who are passionate about the taste of candy corn, you will have to exclude me from your club…If I am in the rare instance where I feel the need for some sugar, I will look elsewhere than the very strange tasting, and mysteriously holiday themed, ‘candy corn’ that explodes out of intricate glassware around the world today. Candy corn is made year round in giant vats and is not harvested in November like real corn…was this a sick joke by my great grandfather?? The world may never know…I have no clue what my great grandfather was thinking when he green lighted the production of this alien flavored and paradoxical food. Respectfully and as serious as a white chocolate bar from Hershey’s,Michael Wunderle
See what I mean about “no middle ground”? Even the man whose great grandfather’s company first produced candy corn despises it! Still, it was a kick to hear from Michael. And how cool is blogging, anyway? You never know who’s going to discover your posts. Blog long enough and you too might have encounters with relatives of B-List celebrities. I have also received comments from Loretta Swit’s (Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan on M.A.S.H.) cousin Stan verifying her Polish ancestry, and Alfredo and Ines Di Lelio, whose grandfather created Fettuccine Alfredo.
World Wide Web indeed.
So, I’m curious: are you Team Candy Corn like me or do you loathe it with the intensity of a thousand suns like Tara? And what was your most interesting/unusual blog comment ever?