It’s Halloween week and you know what that means? CANDY! But did you
know that you can THANK A GERMAN for a festive fall favorite? That’s right, we’re talking about Candy Corn!
According to the National Confectioners Association and oral history records, Candy Corn was first invented by George Renninger, an employee at Wunderle Candy Company in Philadelphia. While many companies at the time were creating mellowcreme candies in various shapes, the corn kernel with its layered colors was new. In 1888 Wunderle became the first company to produce and sell this sweet treat, but it was the Goelitz Confectionery Company that really popularized candy corn.
The Goelitz Confectionery Company was founded in 1869 by Gustav Goelitz, a 24 year old German immigrant. In 1894 the family candy making tradition continued when Goelitz’s sons took over the company. In 1898 the brothers acquired the candy corn recipe and began to make history. Initially marketed as “chicken feed,” candy corn was produced alongside many other mellowcreme shapes including pumpkins, chestnuts, turnips, and more. Though it had the same taste and ingredients as other mellowcreme candies, candy corn was unique and widely recognized for its three bright colors.
Today we associate Candy Corn with fall and Halloween, due to its seasonal popularity and the harvest color theme, but it wasn’t always that way. Candy Corn was initially offered as a “penny candy,” cheap candy that could be bought in bulk. As trick or treating became more popular and Halloween became a time to hand out individual packages of candy, Candy Corn became more strongly associated with the spooky season.
The Goelitz company continued to create sweet treats for generations and is still active today. Though you may know them by a different name...does Jelly Belly ring a bell? The Jelly Belly Candy Company, once the Goelitz Confectionery Company, still produces Candy Corn today, though Brach’s, another company founded by a German immigrant, has emerged as the primary producer of this “chicken feed” candy!
October 30th is National Candy Corn Day - Thank a German while you enjoy this sweet treat!