The Official Flavors Of Candy Corn Are Kind Of Fancy

There's no denying that candy corn is a Halloween and fall icon, along with pumpkin spice everything, bats, and witches. And there's also no denying that you either hate it with a passion or you are part of a small minority who proudly hail the mighty sweet. And sweet it is. When describing the flavor of candy corn, you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who would characterize it as anything but "sugary," and it would be even rarer for anyone to say it tastes like corn. The name comes from the shape of the candy (like kernels of corn) rather than the flavor. But as it turns out, the powers that be (a.k.a. the folks who make the candy) claim the multi-colored confection has three distinct and unexpected flavors.

No, they're not sugar, corn syrup, and sadness, but rather, fondant, marshmallow, and vanilla. To be fair, both fondant and marshmallow are made with sugar and corn syrup (plus a little water and gelatin for the marshmallows), which explains why many people equate the candy with pure sugar. But fondant and marshmallow sound so much more appealing, maybe enough to make you pick up a bag and search for those flavors yourself.

Candy corn comes from a jelly bean maker

In 2016, The Jelly Belly Candy Company (who — surprise! — makes candy corn along with jelly beans) gave Thrillist a rundown of the official flavors that make up the Halloween favorite. The company spokesperson stated: "The actual flavor of Jelly Belly's Candy Corn is a wonderful blend of creamy fondant, rich marshmallow, and warm vanilla notes. When combined, these flavors create the distinct Candy Corn flavor." The spokesperson added that the texture is just as important as the flavor and should be as soft as butter, never crumbly. That sounds as refined as a wine critique and makes us wonder if we should raise our pinkies while placing the candies in our mouths.

In reality, the polished truth probably won't convince those who loathe candy corn to change their ways, but the candy makers aren't likely to lose sleep over that. It's estimated that about 35 million pounds of candy corn are sold yearly. Brach's is the largest producer of the sweet, which even has its own celebratory day, October 30, or National Candy Corn Day. Although the traditional colors are white, orange, and yellow, and it's most associated with Halloween, candy corn is available year-round and even changes its colors and flavors based on the seasons. Look for pink, red, and white corn around Valentine's Day and apple flavors in the fall.

A brief history of candy corn

If you remember your grandma setting out bowls of candy corn on Halloween, it's likely that her grandma did the same. The candy was invented in the 1880s by George Renninger, who worked for the Wunderle Candy Company in Philadelphia. But it was The Goelitz Confectionery Company (which later became Jelly Belly Candy Company) that produced the candy en masse and spread it nationwide. Although it was always shaped like corn, it was initially called "Chicken Feed" with the tagline, "Something worth crowing for."

The same recipe that was used over 100 years ago is used today; a mixture of sugar, fondant, corn syrup, vanilla flavor, marshmallow creme, and other ingredients like gelatin is melted, colored, and placed in layers in molds. Once cooled, the kernels are removed and coated with edible wax and glaze to make them look especially appealing.

The flavor is no longer limited to the candy, either. There are cookies, ice creams, coffees, cereals, popcorn, and even chocolate that boast the fondant, marshmallow, and vanilla notes. Love it or hate it, candy corn is an unmistakable sign of the fall season, one that's likely going to be around forever.