Candy corn is a famously divisive snack. Is the sugary, melt-in-your-mouth treat the best part of Halloween, or a pencil eraser masquerading as candy masquerading as corn? Come to think of it, why does it look like corn at all?
To get to the bottom of this haunted mystery, we spoke with Lisa Rowland Brasher, CEO of Jelly Belly. While today her business is primarily known for its bean-shaped snacks, it's also the longest-running company in America to make candy corn. Originally called the Goelitz Confectionery Company, Jelly Belly didn't even make candy beans until the 1960s.
A Sweet Start
Goelitz Confectionery Company's roots go back to 1869, when by Brasher's third-great grandfather, Gustav Goelitz, started making candy. His sons started the company (and making mellowcremes) in the 1890s. "They made candy out of shapes that they were familiar with," says Brasher. She's seen price lists going back to the 1900s that show mellowcreme candies in the shapes of turnips or carrots. Mellowcreme candy corn, however, may be the one vegetable-themed candy we still eat today because of its multicolored appeal. It was one of the first candies to have more than one color, a process that the third generation of Goelitz candy makers pioneered. It was Brasher's own grandfather who, after waking up in the middle of the night with shooting pain from the backbreaking process of filling the mellowcreme molds by hand, developed a machine that would automatically fill the molds.
Behind The Scenes
Today, Jelly Belly makes the candy corn basically the same way as it did back in early days: a base of water, sugar, and corn syrup, with a marshmallow frappé and creamy fondant, which gives candy corn that controversial texture we are familiar with. The molds are still filled up in three shifts, starting with the white tip, followed by the orange center and yellow top. The entire process takes three days for one candy corn to be created, from liquid candy to kernel ready to eat in a bag. (If you think that's a lot of time, Brasher reveals it can take up to 14 days to make a Jelly Belly bean.)
Another controversy surrounding candy corn? The right way to eat it, and which is the top and which is the bottom. For her part, Brasher says she thinks the yellow is the "top" of the corner, especially because the yellow liquid candy is the last part to go in the mold. As to the "right" way to eat it, whether it's top (whichever that might be) down, or all in one bite, she has no official ruling.
But back to that original question: Is candy corn a perfect fall snack or totally disgusting? Brasher has only this to say to the haters: "Hey, have you tried ours?"