The tricolored Halloween candy that causes some to gag and others to relish in a burst of creamy fondant, rich marshmallow and warm vanilla — candy corn. This controversial Halloween treat has created a schism among candy lovers.
Whether you love it or hate it, this festive candy has a wriggling secret mushed into it that might discourage those with a sweet tooth from sinking in — bug secretion and animal hides.
The light-hearted rhyme, “Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat,” has taken a stomach-churning and icky spin, even if college students still frolic under dim street lights in search of sweet goodies. Candy confectioners should abandon manufacturing bug secretion and boiled animal bones and instead invest in alternative production practices that do not consist of ground-up insects.
The name “confectioner’s glaze” itself attempts to conceal bug secretion in the ingredient list. It is identified as shellac and manufactured with lac-resin, which are lac-bugs, a parasite that lives in tropical and subtropical regions. The parasite utilizes its glands to secrete a waxy texture to coat and protect itself, not only in the wild but also in candy corn. As workers scoop up the lac-bugs’ glandular secretions from banyan trees, some of the bugs are scraped into it, becoming embedded in the candy corn’s coating.
Although some may shudder at the thought of crawling critters, gelatin takes the cake in relevance to grossness. It is a protein obtained by boiling cow or pig skin, tendons, ligaments and bones. The fusion of pulverized parasites and scraps of animal remains is straight out of a witch’s cauldron.
Candy corn’s origins trace back to the Goelitz Candy Company, now the Jelly Belly Candy Company. George Renninger, an employee at the Wunderlee Candy Company, invented the confection in the 1880s.
Oddly enough, candy corn has existed for more than 100 years. Although it appears to have polarized the nation on its sugary yet repulsive content, sales continue for this product.
According to the National Confectioners Association, about 35 million pounds of candy corn are sold each year. Annually, nine billion candy corn kernels are produced. Not only does candy corn appeal to individuals who anticipate a sugar rush from munching on this nasty treat, but it also lacks any nutritional value.
Candy corn has evolved into the despised antagonist of Halloween candy, as its flavor is anything but sweet and toothsome. The revelation of bugs being crushed to smithereens and torn bags of candy corn being tossed into a bowl for all ages to grab is enough to kill anyone’s sugar craving.
Some may argue that candy corn is not the only sweet treat that contains creepy crawlies. All glossy candies, including jelly beans, Milk Duds and Whoppers, contain confectioner’s glaze. Others may point out that since candy corn is consumed sparingly and solely during the holiday season, it should not nauseate anyone. However, candy corn carries Halloween’s reputation, and to some, it’s a sugary delight.
These supposed Halloween staples must be substituted with a vegan alternative or thin glazes made from icing sugar and water. Although a solid substitute for confectioner’s glaze has not been affirmed, candy confectioners must create a feasible, edible candy that does not include bug secretions.
As National Candy Corn Day rounds the corner on Oct. 30, candy corn fanatics might want to reconsider chewing on these bug-infested treats.