I never realized how many foods I loved were deeply despised. Some, I should have seen coming, like my habit of eating grape jelly atop of scrambled eggs, which rightfully horrified my college friends when I pulled that stunt in the cafeteria at breakfast. I meanwhile, was ready to recoil in horror when they put ketchup on theirs. In my defense, my mother made me think I was normal, and I guess prior to college I really only ate breakfast with family? I now see how this combo can seem unsettling, but regardless, I treasure it, and in fact just had some eggs and jelly this morning for breakfast. Try it before you knock it.
Speaking of ketchup, I was always under the impression that it was quintessentially American, like the burgers, fries, and hot dogs I douse with it. Like pizza, I thought not liking it made you an automatic weirdo. I mean, it elevates bland foods, adds a necessary wet ingredient, is one of the stars of a classic Jimmy Buffet song, and I’m positive if I was building my last meal, a grilled hot dog with ketchup would be present. I mean, people who put it on everything disgust me, but in general I considered it a classic. I’m learning, to my disdain, that it’s a much maligned condiment, as evident here, and here, and here, as is Pizza Hut pizza, and mayonnaise, which I always believed was America’s favorite condiment, and whom I felt weird about for jumping on its bandwagon so late, and McDonald’s breakfast, which I consider highly legit (especially their sausage, egg, and cheese on a bagel).
You know what else I can’t get enough of this time of year? Candy corn.
You know what else I thought was just a given, that everyone else loves, but it turns out really, people strongly hate? Candy corn.
Now that it’s the season for these delicious bagfuls of pure, plasticized sugar (meant unironically, as a high compliment), it seems like it’s very much getting the ketchup treatment. Frankly, that’s bullshit. I’ll agree that Candy corn is not the best candy out there (that honor, in my humble opinion would go to either Gertrude Hawk’s peanut butter smidgens OR Swedish Fish), but it certainly doesn’t deserve the derision it’s being given. Let’s save that for Mary Janes, Smarties, and taffy that isn’t laffy or saltwater. However, it is a very festive, very Pennsylvanian, candy, which should be celebrated, not mocked and ridiculed. Here’s why:
- It’s part of Pennsylvania history- Candy corn originated in PA, which is why I’m taking this cause upon my shoulders (although now I’m thinking maybe I owe Heinz some support as well). While Brach’s, whom you probably typically purchased your candy corn from these days, is based in Chicago, it was actually first invented in Philadelphia in the 1880’s, and well, since this is a very academically sound, borderline scientific defense, I’m going to let this article from The Atlantic take it away, “Candy-making oral tradition credits the invention of candy corn to George Renninger, a candy maker at the Wunderle Candy Company of Philadelphia, who is said to have invented it sometime during the 1880s. At that time, many candy makers were producing “butter cream” candies molded into all kinds of natural or plant-inspired shapes, including chestnuts, turnips, and clover leaves. The real innovation in candy corn was the layering of three colors. This made it taxing to produce (all those colors had to be layered by hand in those days). But the bright, layered colors also made the candy novel and visually exciting.” Fun fact: it was actually also originally known as “chicken feed,” because before WWII, Americans actually didn’t eat a lot of corn. Look how educational this is!
- It’s sickeningly sweet, as candy should be- I don’t eat a ton of candy in general, because I’m not a huge sweets person (save gelato, pumpkin roll, donuts, ice cream, danishes, Welsh cookies, banana bread, cheesecake, cheese danishes, Italian ice and..fine, I’m not a huge CANDY person), but when I do have it, I don’t want it to half-ass its purpose. I want it to be sweet. I want it to taste not good for me. I want to know that cavities are coming. Candy corn more than delivers.
- It’s not pretending to be something it’s not- You know when you’re eating candy corn that it’s a ton of sugar. This is not fruit snacks pretending to be fruit. This is not dried fruit pretending to be good. This is not trail mix pretending to be dessert (I love trail mix, but it’s a snack, it’s not a dessert). I’m aware I’m repeating myself here, but candy corn is delicious bagfuls of pure, plasticized sugar. It’s a uniquely synthetic flavor that’s not trying to unsuccessfully mimic something else (looking at you synthetic “grape”), but unabashedly itself.
- It’s unabashedly unique- Speaking of being unabashedly itself, what else tastes like candy corn? Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups ranks high on all the lists of “Best Halloween Candy To Receive” that I read (so, four), and you could argue it’s because they are a combination of two already beloved flavors. The same can be said of Snickers with its combination of chocolate, nuts, and caramel. Seriously, what other candies are so unique, that they have other products flavored after them? All I could come up with is the also great, Swedish Fish.
- It’s light Last week I ate an entire bowl of candy corn after an ill-advised Sunday at the bar, and I didn’t feel full, or bad about myself afterwards.
- You don’t really have to commit- In my house, candy corn is served in a bowl, where according to the National Confectioners Association, it can stay good for between three and six months. That means, unlike the cookies you feel compelled to eat because they’ll go stale, you can casually snack at your leisure, over the course of said three to six months if you wish. Also, sometimes I want something sweet, without devouring an entire candy bar. A few candy corn pumpkin can satisfy that craving immediately.
- It’s easy to travel with-You can’t put a half eaten 3 Musketeers in your pocket for a casual snack later. I have been known to throw a few loose candy corn in there for sustenance.
- It’s healthy-ish- A serving of candy corn contains roughly 28 grams of sugar, and about 140 calories, plus it’s fat-free (I found these stats on the internet, so you know they’re true!).
- It only come out once a year- One of the main reasons I don’t understand the hatred for candy corn, is that it’s only really out for a small portion of the year between the Halloween and Thanksgiving seasons, and then once it’s gone it’s gone. The limits should make it more appealing, like Mad Elf, or temperatures in the 80’s.
- I can name you 10 other Halloween candies that deserve your irrational hate much more- Mary Janes, Smarties, Whoopers, Butterfingers, Necco Wafers (seriously, who loves Necco Wafers?), Double Bubble Gum, Generic Black and Orange wrapped Taffy, Mounds, Almond Joy (I’m on a personal crusade against coconut), Big Chew, Hot Tamales.
- It’s a standalone ingredient– I don’t understand the hatred for something that’s almost always served by itself, and never as an ingredient. It’s the reason I’m not going to bitch about how much I hate plums or broccoli, but will freak out when someone throws a handful of peas into a perfectly good penne ala vodka, or sneaks mustard onto a ham and cheese. When was the last time a candy corn appeared in something you loved? No one is forcing you to eat these, which is fine, because then there are more for me.
Editor’s Note: I include candy corn Pumpkins under the candy corn umbrella, and in fact, treasure these even more. I will never try, nor endorse anything other then original flavor candy corn, especially not brunch flavored. THAT is an abomination.