I thought I’d share my tactics for shopping for candy corn to help those of you in North America* make the most of the Halloween candy shopping preseason (ok, so I guess it’s not really the preseason anymore now that it’s October). My tactics are based on years of research, though not the 30+ years (ahem) you might expect. I was ambivalent about candy corn when I was younger and I got sick of it pretty quickly. I didn’t start craving it until I left home and my cravings got stronger when I moved abroad. Now it is the only reason I get excited about Halloween.
Let me clarify that we are talking about the standard yellow, orange, white candy corn. Not the Indian corn, which tastes like a wannabe Tootsie Roll (which is pretty bad considering it’s hard for candy to taste worse than a Tootsie Roll) and not the pumpkins, which look like they should taste like the regular candy corn but taste like food coloring and marshmallow instead.
First, there is only one perfect brand of candy corn: Brach’s. Made with real honey (so the label says), they’re the only brand with enough salt. The salty sweetness is what makes candy corn so yummy. Even gourmet brands don’t come close, although they’re an acceptable substitute in a pinch and I love the idea of the caramel corn version. Also gourmet candy corn has one advantage: you can buy it in bulk (at least that’s the way it comes here), so you don’t have to buy a whole bag.
Second, the small bags (9 oz./255 g) are better than the larger bags. Maybe it’s the amount of air in the bag, but the corn in the small bags always** has the right texture. The corn in the big bags is either not chewy enough or too dry and often seems like it has melted and then resolidified. Ick.
And last, early season candy corn, i.e. corn bought in September, is far better than candy corn bought later in the season. Maybe it has to with the corn drying out by the end of the season, but it doesn’t much matter because you should be tired of candy corn by the time Halloween rolls around anyway!
*My Canadian friends insist they have never heard of candy corn, but Wikipedia assures me it is “popular in the United States and Canada.”
**Early in the season of course