Children of the (Candy) Corn

In the 1880s, George Renninger created one of the most known pieces of Halloween candy ever invented, one that has endured over a century — candy corn. Considering it’s also one of the most maligned candy treats ever invented, how has it remained a fixtu

Sep 19, 2012 at 10:27 am

In the 1880s, George Renninger, a worker for the Wunderlee Candy Company, invented a new kind of candy. The tiny cone-shaped “treat” was aesthetically a three-color interpretation of a kernel of corn, with the yellow “bottom” resembling the corn and the orange middle and white tip representing … well, not sure on that one. Honestly, I’ve never seen a kernel of corn that looks like candy corn. But Renninger took some poetic license, which is fine. 

The “taste” Renninger was going for is a different story. Candy corn “flavor” is its own animal — essentially, it’s a lump of waxy sugar.

Renninger created one of the most known pieces of Halloween candy ever invented, one that has endured over a century. Considering it’s also one of the most maligned candy treats ever invented, how has it remained a fixture of autumn so long? 

My hypothesis — the candies contain some sort of hypnotic power. This year, I have racked up the best evidence yet for my conspiracy theory. 

This fall, the evil candy corn industry has infiltrated major snack corporations like Mars and Nabisco in a continued effort to distract us from the scientific fact that candy corn is the second worst Halloween candy ever made. (The first are those round, peanut-butter-flavored taffy snacktastrophes wrapped in orange and black wax paper.) 

Check any kid’s Halloween bag after a night of trick or treating on Oct. 31 and you’ll find the diabolical, tri-colored sugar cones at the bottom, sharing space with the aforementioned peanut butter teeth-rotters, nickels and tooth brushes. 

But eventually, before you know it, if there’s candy corn in your house, it will disappear. Despite its innocuous flavoring, it’s suspiciously addictive. 

This year, the good people at M&Ms were somehow tricked into releasing White Chocolate Candy Corn M&Ms. The package features one of those usually good-natured animated M&Ms dressed in a candy corn costume, furrowing his brow because he knows what he’s doing just isn’t right. 

The M&Ms' saving grace is the white chocolate coating. While the treat resembles neither M&Ms nor candy corn, these seasonal treats are way tastier than anything affiliated with candy corn should be. But it’s all in the white chocolate. The candy corn “flavor” is negligible. 

Still, the bag I bought lasted about two days before I had to hide if from my family members. They need help. Is there an AA for candy corn addicts? CCA? 

The biggest evidence of candy corn brainwashing came in Oreos packaging. Oreos is celebrating its 100th anniversary and Nabisco has released numerous flavor alternatives — everything from birthday cake-flavored filling to peanut butter and Neapolitan. 

For the Halloween season, Oreos introduced Candy Corn Oreos, with the flavored cream sandwiched between two of the brand’s beige cookies. 

And people lost their shit.

I don’t know if it’s because they were announced as “limited edition” or because they were made exclusively available at Target, but Candy Corn Oreos have achieved a McRib-like hysteria. The cookies were to be available at Target stores beginning Sept. 10. So I began my ridiculous quest to find a package. 

After visiting a Target with no luck, I put out an APB on Facebook. Turns out “finding cookies” is another thing for which social media is great. I received numerous tips and updates, but all of them led to a dead end. Finally, someone posted their hull from a Northern Kentucky Target, after they struck out at every store in Cincinnati. Apparently, the initial supply had sold out in the Queen City. 

I found out about the potential for Kentucky to have the goods after a day spent reading and watching an unbelievable amount of press and Internet musings on Candy Corn Oreos. Entertainment Weekly’s TV critic wrote a full-length review. Jeanne Moos, CNN’s resident “squirrels waterskiing” (and other global oddities) reporter, put together a whole segment about the cookies.

Then I saw a YouTube video of some hairy dude in a candle-lined bubble bath, bragging about and eating his Oreos score in the tub. Between that and the cost of gas nowadays, I decided I was ending my wild cookie chase. 

Candy corn makers of America — you may have fooled a lot of people, but you’re not sucking me into your silly mind games. 

For those unable to find the Oreos, take two pieces of candy corn and put them between a pair of Lorna Doones. I’m sure that’s close. Or you could eat some real Halloween candy — the new Pumpkin Spice Hershey’s Kisses are delicious, for example. And the Cadbury Creme Egg makers have even come out with a green-centered version for Halloween (Cadbury Screme Eggs) that makes candy corn taste like … well, the little pieces of waxy bullshit they really are.

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