A Sweet Take on Candy Corn

Fall is fully upon us now, which means candy corn has finally begun to grace store shelves. Although this is something I personally see as a delight, I am acutely aware that candy corn really irks some people. Whilst many people think it’s an abomination of a candy, I refuse to accept such a view. Candy corn is one of the best, if not the best, candy America has to offer. 

Candy corn is readily available to consumers only during one season each year, the fall. This makes candy corn the perfect symbol of the changing of weather, and personally, recalls childhood memories of being introduced to American cuisine and drowning in candy corn. Candy corn reminds me of going to school as the trees turned orange and red and teachers did their best to welcome the ‘spooky’ season. It is one of the most iconic symbols of the beginning of the end of the year, and should be more widely celebrated. 

Let’s begin with the anti-candy corn argument I have heard the most: that candy corn is too sugary. To begin, candy is supposed to be sugary. In fact, that is what candy is — sugar. I have yet to find a single type of candy in America that does not contain a very high amount of sugar in it. In 2018, CandyStore.com, an online bulk seller of candy, released a list of candy that is most popular by state ahead of Halloween, and Pennsylvania’s most popular candy was Skittles. While yes, this is not everyone’s favorite candy, I’m just making an example. 

Skittles have 30 grams of sugar per serving. On the other hand, candy corn, which has been said to be overly sugary, has 32 grams of sugar per serving, only two grams higher than the beloved and generally accepted Skittles. Sure, the actual tastes of both these candies are extremely different, as Skittles are inedible, and candy corn is a delight. Skittles are a burst of sugary fruit flavor which wears off so quickly you have to have several at once. Alternatively, candy corn provides a prolonged exposure to a unique and sugary rush that doesn’t demand you eat several pieces of candy corn at once. By not having to eat five or six pieces at once, candy corn allows for a less rushed experience, and a longer lasting stash, than candy like Skittles. 

People may also argue that the taste of candy corn becomes very overwhelming when you eat a few pieces. Now, I can’t argue against that. Yes, sugar, when eaten too quickly and in large amounts, becomes overwhelming and no longer enjoyable. But this argument simply lacks substance. Candy isn’t supposed to be eaten in bowlfuls for days at a time. Candy is supposed to be an enjoyable treat that you can enjoy every once in a while. So when candy corn is eaten in moderate amounts, the taste and sugary sweetness of it can be fully appreciated.

Some people might say that candy corn has a fake, waxy taste. If waxy textures are not your vibe, then fine, of course you won’t like candy corn. But that’s one of the best parts of the candy — it’s chewy, but at the same time, manages to melt in your mouth. And as you eat it, the sweet sugary taste within it tend to take more of your attention that does its texture. As to the point of it tasting ‘fake’, my first question is just to ask for some clarity. I often wondered what it means for candy to taste fake, and every time I’ve asked, I’ve heard that candy corn tastes like it was manufactured, which, obviously, it has been. The other answer I’ve received is that by fake, one means plastic. 

I’d like to point out that most candy tastes fake. Starburst? Like pieces of plastic. Jolly Ranchers? Like manufactured, hard sugar. Gummy bears? Fake all-around. I could go on and on with this list, but the point is that all candy is manufactured, since, by no surprise, it does not grow on trees. The other point is that all candy tastes somewhat like plastic if you really think about it, so saying candy corn is the only one to merit this criticism is not simply not true. 

The last smear candy corn often deals with has to do with the ‘unpleasant’ colors it sports. People sometimes seem to find yellow, white, and orange to be displeasing colors for food. I don’t want to make an endless list, so I’m just going to say this: there is, in all likelihood, at least one food you eat that is one of these three colors that you like. For example, yellow spans a large breadth of food, from lemons to bananas to paella to polenta and beyond. If you’re not a fan of one of these foods, the root of the problem is probably its taste, rather than it’s ‘unpleasant’ color.

The colors of candy corn also recall the autumn season. The orange and yellow remind the consumer of the changing leaves and the fact that winter is descending quickly upon us. In my mind, the white tops the candy in an effort to symbolize the snow that will soon top the land, once again reminding me of the long, hopefully cold winter ahead. 

Even though I do not like winter one bit and that is what the colors of my favorite candy symbolize for me, I am not sad eating it. The bright and festive colors also remind me that there is good to come, that there is always something to celebrate. Even on days that are hard and the sun is setting earlier and the trees are completely naked, the sight and taste of candy corn totally turns my day around.

Candy corn is the candy of childhood, the candy that personally started me on my journey of trying American candy. As an immigrant, much of American candy was off-limits, because it was too foreign for my mom to integrate into our household. A teacher in second grade, however, handed me a bag of candy corn to celebrate Halloween, and the moment I tasted it, I was in love. Candy corn was an experience, from the bright colors it sported to the rush of energy it gave me right after. And since that fateful day, I’ve been a loyal fan.

I am also a coffee addict. Especially when classes start and meetings pile up, I cannot get enough coffee into my system. The amount of coffee I need to drink during the fall, however, decreases significantly, because a handful of candy corn has a better, longer lasting effect on my energy than does a cup of coffee. Not only that, but it is a much cheaper alternative to a so-so Sci Coffee Bar cup of coffee, thanks to the wonderful Sharples staff and the candy bowl at the entrances. Candy corn is wonderful. Its colors symbolize fall, and the sugar high it leaves you with is what has powered me, and so many other students, through midterms and beyond. Even though its sugary taste and texture are the perfect combination, there will always be some who cannot go near it, and this I understand. But I think we need to make more room for candy corn appreciation, instead of voting it the worst candy in America, somehow giving it this dishonor over Circus Peanuts, rubbery peanut shaped sugar ‘treats’ that are given a burnt orange taste. This fall season, I hope we can all have a little more candy corn, enjoy the inevitable sugar rush, and coalesce around a more appropriate disdain for a candy created to mirror circus peanuts.

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