Jelly Belly Candy Co., headquartered in Fairfield, Calif., and its sister candymaking facility in North Chicago, Ill., are closely associated with the history of candy corn. While many in the candy industry believe a Jelly Belly ancestor invented candy corn, no one knows who first invented it. According to the oral tradition of the candymaking family, it was a candymaker by the name of George Renninger at Wunderle Candy Co. of Philadelphia in the 1880s.
Candy corn was probably revolutionary in its time because of its three colors of white, orange and yellow. In order to make a tri-color kernel, a candymaker, called a “runner,” made three separate passes with 50 pounds of hot steaming fondant depositing a little bit of candy at just the right rate into cornstarch molded with the kernel shape. These passes required great strength and endurance since the runner had to lift and carry the big buckets called “stringers” of hot cooked candy which appears to come out of the bottom of the bucket in “strings”. Today that job is done by machine, but candy corn is still manufactured in the same essential manner.
The Jelly Belly candymaking family began to make candy corn around 1898 in their Cincinnati, Ohio factory then named Goelitz Confectionery Company. The company has the longest history of making candy corn of any in the industry. The product was so successful it carried the company through two world wars and the Depression. For seventy-five years candy corn, and what were called “buttercreams,” were the mainstay of Goelitz business until another sensation, Jelly Belly jelly beans, overtook the candy corn tradition in popularity. Turn of the century ads and packaging of candy corn claim Goelitz as “king of the candy corn fields.” Jelly Belly Candy Co. still uses the same recipe for making candy corn as they did in the early days.
Today, Jelly Belly Candy Co. sells Candy Corn all year around in gourmet food shops and specialty candy stores. But it is still most popular in Autumn. In the last several years the company has expanded its offerings of candy corn to include Giant Corn for the autumn season, as well as Cupid Corn®, Bunny Corn® and Reindeer Corn® for other seasons.
One kernel of Candy Corn from the makers of Jelly Belly is just over 4 calories. A one ounce serving has 110 calories.
The Jelly Belly family of candy makers have made candy corn continuously since 1898 and has been making candy corn longer than any company in the business today.
About 15 billion kernels of Candy Corn are sold annually, according to the National Confectioners Association.
In the 19th century candy makers created fondant based candies into many novelty shapes. Goelitz records show candies shaped into chestnuts, turnips, clover leaves, and many others, so a candy shaped like a kernel of corn fit right into the times.