Candy corn has been around for more than 100 years. George Renninger, an employee of the Wunderlee Candy Company, invented the popular confection in the 1880s and Wunderlee became the first to produce the candy. The Goelitz Candy Company (now Jelly Belly Candy Company) started producing the confection in 1900 and still produces candy corn today.
When candy corn first appeared, it was popular among farmers because of its agrarian look. The tri-color design was considered revolutionary and the public went crazy for it. Lack of machinery meant that candy corn was only made seasonally from March to November. Candy corn has remained unchanged for more than 100 years and is a favorite at Halloween.
In 1900, it was the job of many men to produce candy corn for eight months of the year.
Sugar, corn syrup and other ingredients were cooked into a slurry in large kettles. Fondant and marshmallow were added to give a smooth texture and bite. The 45 pounds of hot candy was poured into buckets called runners. Men dubbed stringers walked backwards pouring the candy into cornstarch trays imprinted with the kernel shape. It took three passes to make the white, yellow and orange colors. Originally, candy corn was delivered by wagon in wooden boxes, tubs and cartons.
The process of making candy corn is very similar today, but now machines do most of the work. Manufacturers use a method called the corn starch molding process. A tray containing depressions is filled with corn starch. Candy corn is made from the bottom to the top and in three-color passes. First, the depression is filled one-quarter full with yellow syrup and allowed to partially set. Next, the orange syrup is added. The mold is then topped off with the white syrup and is cooled. The candy now can gel together. After is it has finished cooling, the trays are emptied and the little candy corns are ready to be eaten.