Behold, the humble confection called the Candy Corn. Mock it if you must, but I have yet to meet an adult who was raised in the U.S. who does not feel some kind of affection for this odd-tasting and peculiarly shaped treat. It is loosely designed on the shape of a corn kernel, and tastes about like you would expect sugar, corn syrup, and powdered sugar to taste if they were melted down and molded in this shape. Not as chewy as a gummy bear, but better than wax. I bet you are tempted now!
For those who are new to this special candy, it is worth mentioning that the “standard” candy corn is the tricolored version with yellow, orange, and white stripes. The one with a brown base is chocolate (because the only thing better than pure sugar is adding chocolate). The pumpkin shaped one, for reasons I cannot explain, somehow tastes different from the rest. Perhaps it is the green food coloring, or the fact that it is just so much denser than the others.
I cannot tell you why we have a fondness for this treat, but every year, my husband and I buy just one bag (which we can rarely finish). Perhaps it is out of nostalgia for our childhoods. Maybe it is a token way that we can symbolically imagine ourselves celebrating fall. Living in Phoenix, there is not much foliage to capture our hearts, and since we don’t have kids yet, there is not much trick-or-treating to be done. Perhaps it is a kind of innocence and wonder at the silliness and fun of such a treat. Or maybe it is because it is one of the few items which, even in the era of year-round imported grapes, is only available during a particular season.
Whatever the reason, it endures as a culinary mainstay of autumn in the U.S. Bags can be found at any grocery store, drug store, or retailer like Target. To sample one and impress your coworkers with your intimate understanding of U.S. culture, consider buying a bag and pouring it in a candy jar on your desk. (You do know about the importance of desktop candy jars, right? Not everyone has one, but they are a great way to get people to feel at home in your cubicle, if you want such a thing).
When you’ve tried it for the first time, let me know what you think of them! And if you are wondering about any other U.S. foods or holidays, let me know and I’ll try to feature a post on it soon. Bon appetit!