What Is Candy Corn Made Of, Anyway?

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Halloween candy can be a surprisingly divisive subject, particularly for one very specific variety: Candy corn. Some people are in love with candy corn, while other people can't stand it — and honestly, I've always wondered if it has something to do with what candy corn is made out of. Sure, we all immediately recognize the white, orange, and yellow treats, but it's hard to decipher what exactly goes into them from taste and sight alone; neither does the smell lend us much of a hint, as its scent is just as sweet as everything else in your trick-or-treat sack. So, just what goes into these bite-sized candies? And is that why the debate around them rages so fiercely?

According to Daven Hiskey at Today I Found Out, the recipe for candy corn will vary a little based on brand; generally, though, they candies are made out of a combination of sugar, corn syrup, glaze, egg whites, honey glycerin, mineral oil, wax, and salt. They also contain plenty of food coloring, because how else do you think those bright oranges and yellows make their way in there? Additionally, as Renee Jacques reports at the Huffington Post, not all brands of candy corn are vegetarian or vegan; many brands contain gelatin, which is good to know for those candy lovers who avoid animal products.

But although the recipe for candy corn hasn't changed much since its creation in the 1880s (yes, that's how far it goes back), the process by which we actually make it is pretty different today. According to Stephanie Watson at How Stuff Works, "In the early days, workers mixed the main ingredients — sugar, water and corn syrup — in large kettles. Then they added fondant and marshmallow for smoothness. Finally, they poured the entire mixture by hand into molds, one color at a time." Unsurprisingly, machines do most of this work now.

If you want to make candy corn at home, though, there are plenty of recipe variations online. Most recipes for homemade candy corn rely on a combination of sugar, corn syrup, and milk, with ingredients like butter and salt to pull it all together. So, yeah: It's basically the sweet indulgence your middle school self craved on a regular basis.

If you want to make vegan candy corn at home, or just enjoy recreating Halloween candy that doesn't have a laundry list of ingredients, you are in luck, too! There are lots of vegan candy corn recipes online, though most involve a combination of the same basic ingredients: Soy milk powder, brown rice sugar, and cashew butter. How do you get the gloriously florescent yellow, orange, and white colors in a natural way? Many recipes suggest using tumeric to change the color of your homemade candy corn, though I make no promises that it'll look exactly the same as the store-bought stuff.

Whether or not you enjoy candy corn, you are sure to get some if you go trick or treating this year. And if you're hosting a Halloween party of your own: Take heart! There's probably is a candy corn lover somewhere in your midst. So whether you love it or hate it, you'll have someone either to share your joy with — or give any candy corn you don't want to.

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