Thank You, George Renninger

I have a new obsession in my life, and it is almost out of control this time of year.

Candy corn.

It wasn’t always this way. Much like broccoli and Justin Timberlake, I couldn’t stand it when I was younger. Nowadays, I can’t get enough. For the record, I also really dig broccoli – Tara steams hers in chicken broth, which gives it a really good flavor – and think Justin Timberlake is a funny dude who has become a likable, decent actor, as well. This just proves that our tastes can and do change over the years.

I still hate cauliflower, though.

The best thing about autumn? Candy corn!

I’m not sure why I ever disliked candy corn in the first place. Maybe I found it too sweet? Who knows. I love everything about it now – the taste, the color, the texture. Even the smell. Maybe part of it is the happy associations that accompany this sweet confection. Candy corn represents autumn, my favorite season. A crisp chill in the air, colorful changing leaves, frost on the pumpkin. The return of the rainy season. Warm and hearty stews, apple cider, a cozy blanket on the couch. And of course, Halloween. I’ve always been a big fan of the holiday, and not just because it gives me an excuse to buy a bag or two of miniature chocolates or watch The Shining. It’s just a fun holiday. Much more so than stuffy ol’ Christmas or ooh-let’s-dress-up-and-cook-a-fat-dead-bird Thanksgiving. Halloween allows you to channel your inner {kid/monster/freak/slut} and cut loose for a day. What’s not to love?

Plus, it turns out I’m trendy, because candy corn is apparently the “it” flavor of 2012. So much so that restaurants are dishing up groovy new concoctions like candy corn popcorn, candy corn bagels, and even – be still my liquor-craving heart – a candy corn martini. Oh, my. And yes, please.

So when a plastic tub full of candy corn appeared on a table in the office a couple of weeks ago, I was in heaven. Nothing helps to break up the drudgery of a busy afternoon slaving away at work than a handful of tasty, festive candy corn! This was a variety pack that included Indian corn, a variation that has a chocolate-flavored brown stripe across the bottom of the familiar tri-colored candy instead of the usual yellow. To me, that is blasphemy! And doesn’t taste nearly as good. Candy corn (designed to resemble kernels of corn, hence the name) should always have a white strip at the top, an orange band in the middle, and a yellow one across the bottom. Invented in the 1880s by George Renninger of the Wunderlee Candy Company, candy corn contains just a few simple ingredients: sugar, corn syrup, fondant (for texture), marshmallows (for softness), and wax (for burning, should the power go out). In order to capitalize on the holiday theme and make candy corn a year-round treat, different versions have been created: red, green and white (“reindeer corn” for Christmas); red, pink and white (“Cupid corn” for Valentine’s Day); and a variety of pastel bases with white tips (“bunny corn” for Easter). I’m sure they’re all well and good, but like Indian corn (created for Thanksgiving), can’t possibly stand up to the original. This also begs the question: why no “firecracker corn”?

Brach’s, would you care to address that oversight?

So, what are your thoughts on candy corn: delicious seasonal treat or eww, no thanks? Which holiday would you like to see represented? And how about Justin Timberlake – talented actor and musician or washed-up boy band singer?

24 thoughts on “Thank You, George Renninger

  1. Mark, I freakin’ LOVE candy corn! And it’s funny because whenever I tell someone that, they look at me like, “OMG…how gross!”

    ” I love everything about it now – the taste, the color, the texture. Even the smell. ”

    Ditto! I love when you first open a bag or plastic container and get that first sweet whiff!

    “So when a plastic tub full of candy corn appeared on a table in the office a couple of weeks ago, I was in heaven.”

    HA! The same thing happened to me at work a couple of weeks ago.

    The only bad thing about candy corn is that once I start eating them…I CAN’T stop!

    Glad to hear someone else on this planet enjoys them as much as me!


    1. “The only bad thing about candy corn is that once I start eating them…I CAN’T stop!”

      I know what you mean! FYI…19 pieces contain 140 calories. Just memorize that stat and you’ll be fine!


  2. I don’t mind candy corn, although it is super sugary but the taste? OMGoodness…there is nothing like it! YUM!!

    I do like Justin Timberlake as an actor. Never did care too much about his music but as an actor…yes! Very much so. I especially like him in Alpha Dogs….that movie is just AWESOME!!


    1. Your lovely daughter turned me on to “Alpha Dogs.” Great movie! I forgot JT was even in it. I enjoyed his work in “The Social Network” and “Friends With Benefits.” And Saturday Night Live, of course!


  3. Hey Mark, the South Beach Diet cookbook has a great recipe for making cauliflower taste just like mashed potatoes. Of course, it helps if you add lots of butter. 🙂 And candy corn? Well, lets just say the dentist in our town had an airplane and a private landing strip because of candy corn. Funny post!


  4. Candy corn is one of those things that I claim to dislike and then can’t stay away from if it’s around. (I like the kind with the brown stripe best.)


  5. Seriously? Candy corn is the “it” flavor? Who voted for that? I certainly wasn’t consulted. Candy corn is right up there with circus peanuts and astronaut ice cream. Gross. You can totally have all of mine.

    I’ll eat your cauliflower. Yum!


  6. Hello candy corn lovers,

    I stumbled upon this blog in an attempt to verify my father’s long standing claim that his great grandfather, Philip Justus Wunderle, was head of a candy factory that invented candy corn. Your article refers to the ‘Wunderlee’ candy company. The name is spelled ‘Wunderle’ not ‘Wunderlee’, or ‘wonderley…wunderley…wonderbread..etc.’

    For reference my father is Philip Justus Wunderle the third. Had my parents continued the tradition, I would have been the fourth, but for modern times sake you can call me ‘Mike’ as I ‘Phil’ in the gaps in your article as my son may do someday for the fourth time.

    While I may not be able to truthfully say “my great grandfather invented candy corn,” as I bragged about a few times in kindergarten, I can lay claim the king of candy corn throne via direct ancestry.

    Sadly, for those of you who are passionate about the taste of candy corn, you will have to exclude me from your club. As I child I ate far more candy than I do today,and have little desire for sweets as an adult. If I am in the rare instance where I feel the need for some sugar, I will look elsewhere than the very strange tasting, and mysteriously holiday themed, ‘candy corn’ that explodes out of intricate glassware around the world today. Candy corn is made year round in giant vats and is not harvested in November like real corn…was this a sick joke by my great grandfather?? The world may never know.

    All in all, I am glad my grandfather is not the true inventor of Candy Corn, as its popularity is a mystery on the same order as my own sense of existence from one moment to the next. I thank the universe for not manifesting itself with a modern day candy corn company lead by myself as the ‘corn syrup’ Bavarian baron, with its power based in a diabolical diabetes diatribe —

    For you die hard enthusiasts, you can catch me running uphill with my dog, ridng my mountain bike along the California coast, or dirt biking at high altitude in the mountains. No, not the big rock candy mountains, the real mountains, where men use sugar to disinfect wounds sustained in fights with mountain lions and the occasional grizzly bear. Yes, these types of explosive predators are the number one danger I face on a day to day basis while enjoying my hobbies.

    I have no clue what my great grandfather was thinking when he green lighted the production of this alien flavored and paradoxical food. Please remember there is no sugar to be found in the ‘food pyramid’ that makes up modern candy corn. I am not trying to be a troll, or in this case, the Pharaoh of the candy corn pyramid speaking from the dead, but PLEASE stop eating this poisonous crap and restore my faith and understanding in my fellow human beings.

    Respectfully and as serious as a white chocolate bar from Hershey’s,

    Michael Wunderle


    1. Thank you so much for the fascinating background info, Michael. You may not long for the title of heir to a candy corn empire, but trust me when I say many folks would love to be in your shoes (and they’re not all named Willy W., either). Alas, I no longer indulge in my beloved candy corn thanks to a diabetes diagnosis, though just a small handful wouldn’t kill me…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s