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Entries in halloween (29)

Wednesday
Sep292010

Maybe I'm A-Maized: A Brief History of Candy Corn

Image originally used for Serious EatsEating seasonal is of interest to everyone these days, and the freshest produce in the world of sweets right now is corn--candy corn, that is.

But in the same way that one might want to meet the producer, why don't we get to know the backstory behind those little sugary cones of delicious sweetness?

Here goes.

First off: Who invented Candy Corn?

According to this article, "Bill Plumlee, the public relations manager of Brach's Candy Co., said George Renninger of the Wunderlee Candy Co. created candy corn in the 1880s."

And, to answer another question you have ("what's up with the colors, dude?"), as I also discovered in the same article,

Creators chose the three colors of candy corn, to reflect the colors of the real thing.

"It's supposed to mimic corn," Plumlee said. "Yellow on top, darker as it goes down and whitish as it nears the end."

Now, I have to squint really hard to see it that way, but maybe the inventor had very poor vision (or maybe he was color blind?).

Interestingly, as I found out on Slashfood,

 The design apparently made it popular with farmers when it first came out, but it was the fact that it had three colors - a really innovative idea - that catapulted it to popularity.

Of course, though Mr. Renninger is credited with coming up with this sweet idea, many actually assign credit to Goelitz (now part of Jelly Belly) as being the ones who really brought candy corn into the public eye:"1898. Goelitz Confectionery Company begins making candy corn or "chicken feed." They continue to make this Halloween favorite longer than any other company." ---Candy: The Sweet History, Beth Kimmerle (discovered via Food Timeline)

And to expand on that, according to the Jelly Belly site,

Our beginnings are traced back to a family named Goelitz. When two young brothers emigrated from Germany to make their mark in America, they set the family on its candymaking course. In 1869, just two years after arriving in America, Gustav Goelitz bought an ice cream and candy store in Belleville, Ill., and his brother, Albert was sent out in a horse drawn wagon to sell their sweets to nearby communities.

Then the second generation of the family jumped on the band wagon of candy innovations by making a new type of candy, then called "buttercream" candies, including Candy Corn, a sweet we've made since about 1900 (and still use the same recipe). These candies carried the family through the Great Depression and two world wars. Today, the great-grandsons of Gustav Goelitz, the fourth generation, are still carrying on the tradition of making candy.

Was it always a Halloween treat?

Interestingly, as I found on Food Timeline, candy corn wasn't always strictly associated with Halloween, but more with fall--the transition to "Halloween Candy" was perhaps a subtle shift: "Candy corn, like many other candies we enjoy at Halloween, was promoted as treats for Halloween by candy companies after WWII." (a time when, by the way, the art of Trick or Treating really began in earnest). As the writeup goes on, "Candy corn might have been especially popular because it was also a seasonal (fall) confection. Popcorn balls and candied apples are other seasonal (fall) treats conventinetly transitioned to Halloween."

How is it made?

As I learned from this interview on NPR,

In the early days, making candy corn was hard work. It was done by hand. The ingredients were cooked in huge kettles. Then, the hot candy was poured into buckets. Men poured the liquid candy corn from the buckets into kernel-shaped trays. The workers had to make three passes to create the white, yellow and orange layers. Production was so labor-intensive the candy corn was made only from March to November.

Of course, now candy corn is made by machine--I could try to explain it, but the Food Network can show you in living color:

But that's not the only thing that has changed. Per Slashfood, the ingredient list has, too:

Originally, candy corn was made of sugar, corn syrup (not HFCS), fondant and marshmallow, among other things, and the hot mixture was poured into cornstarch molds, where it set up...The recipe changed slightly over time and there are probably a few variations in recipes between candy companies, but the use of a mixture of sugar, corn syrup, gelatin and vanilla (as well as honey, in some brands) is the standard.

Of course, if you're brave, you can make candy corn at home too. I did it last year, for Serious Eats.

How do Mellowcreme Pumpkins play into it?

Mellowcreme pumpkins (and the other weird shapes that come in those "Autumn Mix" assortments) were a later addition:

Candy pumpkins first were produced in mid 20th century using a process similar to that of candy corn. Corn syrup, food coloring, honey, and sugar are beat and heated in large kettles to produce an ultra-sweet syrup.

This slurry generically is called "mellowcreme" by confectioners, since the resulting candy has a mellow, creamy texture.

They are said to appeal in a different way than candy corn because their different volume and weight makes for an "interesting texture". And in case you were wondering--yes, I prefer Mellowcreme pumpkins to candy corn.

The final word?

Even if you believe, like Serious Eats, that candy corn is "the fruitcake of halloween candy" and one of the 10 worst Halloween candies to give out, there's no denying its iconic status as a Halloween classic, and whether it's because of its classic look or simply because it's slowly going stale in your goodie bag, it's not going anywhere.

Tuesday
Nov032009

Candy Massacre: Leftover Halloween Candy Pie for Serious Eats

Leftover Halloween Candy Pie
Poor Halloween candy. Just a few days ago it was the star of the supermarket aisle, the festive treat on everyone's mind. But now, just two days later, these sweet treats are Halloween has-beens, relegated to sale bins, withering away in candy dishes.

But is there a way to breathe new life—to re-animate, if you will—this past its prime candy? I propose yes: by dumping it in a pie shell and melting it into one monstrous mash of a candy pie.
Leftover Halloween Candy Pie

This pie was the subject of my weekly sweet writeup over at Serious Eats--why not click over and check out the full post plus recipe?

Friday
Oct302009

Baker's Dozen: A Sweet Batch of Halloween Links!

Mellowcreme strikes back!
Trick or Sweet! Here is a batch of sweet Halloween links full of ideas ghoulishly delicious ideas and recipes, some from the CakeSpy archives and some from other sweet spots around the web:

Homemade Candy Corn

What happens to Halloween Candy when it dies?

Wicked Witch's hat: a super elaborate popcorn ball (and cute Halloween recipe!)

Candy Corn Nanaimo Bars

Putting the "fun" back in Fun-Size Candies!

Mellowcreme Strikes Back!

Quick and easy ghost cookies, using nutter butter cookies!

Sweet coconut-orange thumbprint cookies are delicious, and a perfect quick cookie for a Halloween party!

Ghoulish Halloween Cupcakes!

Cereal Killer: Reese's Puffs bars with buttercream frosting!

Sweet (and cute!) Dracula Cookies!

Oogly Butterfinger eyeballs!

It may not scream "Halloween"--but this four-layer pumpkin cake would make anyone's October 31 sweet.

Happy Halloween!

Monday
Oct262009

Trick or Sweet: Candy Corn Nanaimo Bars for Serious Eats

Halloween Treats!
What do Nanaimo Bars wear for Halloween?

Candy corn topping, of course.

For this week's entry on Serious Eats, I decked out the decadent Canadian treat with a sweet Halloween topping, swapping out the typical chocolate topping for melted candy corn. The result is a treat that is unforgivingly sweet and unabashedly rich: that is to say, completely awesome.
Halloween Treats!

You can find the recipe for Candy Corn Nanaimo Bars here; for the classic Nanaimo Bar recipe (as well as some lore!), you can visit this previous CakeSpy feature!

Wednesday
Oct212009

Big Fun: Tricked Out Treats Using Fun Size Sweets

Big Fun with Little Candy Bars
If I had a time machine, I would go back in time and punch whoever invented the Fun Size candy bar.

Because you know what? They aren't very fun at all. Eating just one is definitely not fun (too small!) and when you inevitably try to satisfy your candy appetite by eating 10-12 of the pint-sized treats, what you feel is basically the opposite of fun.

Can this sticky situation be salvaged in time for Halloween, when Fun Size reigns? In the name of science, I purchased an entire bag of Fun Size Snickers bars and tried in several different ways to put the fun back in Fun Size. I'm happy to report that it was indeed fun, decidedly delicious, and these ideas could easily be translated to other Fun size variations (perhaps not so much on the non-chocolate varieties such as Starburst or Skittles, though I encourage you to choose your own adventures). Ready for some fun? Let's do it:

Fun Size S'moreFun Size S'more
Fun Size S'more: Guess what? Making a s'more with a Fun Size candy bar instead of bar chocolate works fantastically! The caramel oozed in a most satisfying way, and worked in a sort of campfire-meets-rocky road sort of way. (P.S. if you like this, you may also enjoy the S'moreo).

Fun Size Filled CupcakesFun Size Filled Cupcakes
Fun Size Filled CupcakesInside of Cupcake

Fun Size Filled Cupcakes: Make a batch of cupcakes. Fill the cup slightly lower than you generally would with batter, and put a fun-size bar directly in the cup. Bake per the recipe's instructions, and then frost once cooled. It's like a sweet trick (and treat) in the middle of your already awesome cupcake. Score!

Fun Size Frosting Sandwich
Fun Size Frosting Sandwich: Sandwich together two Fun Size bars with a generous smear of buttercream frosting. Ignore any objections or concerns that may arise as a result of friends, arteries, or better judgment, and let the party in your mouth begin.

Fun Size Kebab
Fun Size Kebab: Alternate slices of your Fun Size candy with another small-ish confection, say a Little Debbie Swiss Cake Roll. Because two small treats make one delicious experience.

Fun Size ShortbreadFun Size Shortbread
Fun Size Shortbread: Kind of like a simplified Millionaire's shortbread. Simply make your favorite shortbread recipe and form as cookies or as bars (I used a mini scone pan, for no particular reason other than that it was clean and around), and before baking cut up an entire Fun Size candy bar on top of each serving. The candy will ooze into the shortbread as it bakes. It doesn't necessarily look pretty, but it tastes fantastic.

Let's be honest with ourselves. We can all eat four.Let's be honest with ourselves. We can all eat four.
Let's be honest with ourselves. We can all eat four.Let's be honest with ourselves. We can all eat four.

"Let's Be Honest With Ourselves" Fun Size Confection: Let's be honest. We've all eaten four Fun-Size candy bars (at least) in one sitting. So why not be honest with yourself by mashing them all together beforehand? Take four bars and align them together on a plate; microwave on high for about 20 seconds. Use a knife to smooth over the chocolate so that they stick together, and dig in while it's still warm. Use a knife and fork and your dignity will remain intact. Sort of.
- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Now wasn't all that fun?
We're Having Fun!

 

Monday
Oct122009

A-Maize-ing: How to Make Candy Corn at Home

Homemade Candy Corn
Where does candy corn come from? Had you asked me a week ago, I would have said "from a bag, of course!". But when my friends at Serious Eats asked me to make a homemade batch for my weekly feature on their site, I quickly embarked on a crash course in DIY confectionery.
Homemade Candy Corn
While commercially produced candy corn is made using hella machinery and takes 4-5 days to make, the at-home version is surprisingly easy (even for candymaking novices like myself!), and far more flavorful than the store-bought type. Oh, and if you are so inclined, you could use the dough to make your own mellowcreme pumpkins too.

Curious? You can check out the full recipe here.

 

Friday
Oct312008

The Horror: When Bad Things Happen to Good Candy

Killed them dead
It's been proven in horror movies again and again: when you dabble in mad science, there will be casualties. Suddenly, people and things change into something else...something evil. Case in point: Frankenstein; Night of the Living Dead; Pet Semetary.

It was in this state of mind that we decided to go all mad science on a bowl of Halloween candy. Our weapon of destruction? The Microwave. We microwaved various Halloween treats in 30-second increments to see which would last the longest--and which ones would succumb easily and quickly to their fate, by popping or exploding or bubbling up. Why did we do this? Well, why do we watch horror movies? Morbid curiosity, the desire to feel alive...and you know, for entertainment.

Here are the scary results:

Snickers Pumpkin HeadSnickers Pumpkin head--killed!

Victim 1: The Snickers Halloween Ghost. The Snickers ghost had a frightening little face, which made it all the more apt when his inner filling exploded after about a minute and a half and his smile was cut in half. "Oh" he seems to be saying, "it smarts!". Overall though, this was a pretty clean and quick goodbye.

 

Tootsie RollsTootsie Rolls
Dead Tootsie Rolls

Victim 2: Tootsie Rolls. We chose a grouping of three 'rolls, including lime, the little-seen vanilla and the classic chocolate (that is what it's supposed to be flavored, right?). It took about 2 minutes, but they dissolved into a very satisfying goo, the green portion of which was not unlike the slime we remember from the You Can't Do That On Television days.  

Buzzard NestBuzzard Nest
Six Minutes
Victim 3: Russel Stover Buzzard Nest. We weren't quite sure how this one quite worked as a Halloween treat--we suspect it was leftover Easter chicks' nests repurposed for the fall--but whatever reasoning behind it, the fact is that this candy simply would not die. At two minutes, it had barely broken a sweat; at three, four and five minutes, still nothing. It wasn't until minute six that the chocolate even began to melt away a little bit and the candy coating on the jellybeans began to give way. While we admire how long this candy held on, we're not sure if we would ever wanna put it in our bodies.

DotsDead Dots
Victim 4: Dots. What are the odds that our box would have ONLY red (and one orange) candy? These ones didn't look like they were going to break down, until minute three, when a small popping sound could be heard. Though they were still solid, when prodded with a fork they kind of exploded open into a visually satisfying, viscous jelly-mass. Mmm, undead Dots.

Tootsie PopsKilled them dead
Victim 5: Tootsie Pops. How many licks does it take to get to the center? Who cares, when you can see how many minutes it takes to melt them into oblivion? It took about 2 minutes til the Orange pop was toast. Strangely, the grape pop still seemed to be holding its ground even while the orange candy began bubbling up and turning orange. Freaky.

It's the same as the regular sampler!Sampler ChocolatesDead!Sampler--Dead!

 

 

Victim 6: The Whitman Sampler. The Whitman Halloween sampler is a lie: it's just wrapped in different paper! After discovering this we didn't feel at all bad about melting them. After just about a minute they were starting to sweat--at two minutes, they had all exploded, leaking sweet fillings all over the plate. Rest in Peace, fair Whitman Sampler.

Reese's CupMelty
Victim 7: Reese's Peanut butter Cup. In retrospect, this was the most beautiful demise of all: after about a minute and thirty seconds, the chocolate was beginning to melt; by two and a half minutes, it had melted into an elegant, accordionesque pattern, and still actually looked appetizing. Would you judge if we admitted we split this one and did in fact eat it?
The Final Word: OK, OK, so we should say that we don't necessarily suggest that you try this at home. However, we're glad that we were able to conduct this experiment--now that it's done, we feel as if learned a few things about Halloween Candy--and, you know, the dark parts of our souls. 
Happy Halloween!

 

 

Thursday
Oct162008

Letter to the Editor: Mellowcreme Strikes Back

Mellowcreme strikes back!
To Whom It May Concern at "Cakespy":

My name is Mellowcreme Pumpkin and I would like to comment on your recent article "Cake Poll: Fall Treats". In reading through your reader responses I notice that the confection known as "Candy Corn" has attained far more votes than me in the race to determine the superior Halloween Confection. It has brought me to only one conclusion: either this poll has been funded by "Candy Corn" or "Candy Corn" has paid off said readers for a positive response.

Mellowcreme strikes back!
In defense of my superiority, allow me to point out some important issues which I hope will make readers reconsider their vote:

 

  • There's simply no delicate way to state it other than to say Candy Corn is a Conehead. Do you really want to associate yourself with a piece of candy whose claim to fame is a resemblance to a washed-up vintage Saturday Night Live character? 
  • Candy Corn is skinny. They say never trust a skinny chef--I say never trust a skinny candy. Even considering Candy Corn's unbecoming "junk in the trunk", you'd still have to eat at least three of them to equal one of me. 
  • Seeing green: There's a lot of value put on being "green" in society these days. Well, do you see a trace of green on Candy Corn? No way. I'm the only confection in this mixed bag of candies to contain green. You know what that means? I'm practically a vegetable! Clearly I'm the healthiest choice, not to mention I have a more visually pleasing palette. 
  • Mellowcreme strikes back!
  • The press agrees: According to Serious Eats, Candy Corn is "the fruitcake of halloween candy" and one of the 10 worst Halloween candies to give out. While some of you may argue that my ingredient list is the same, I don't see any pictures of Mellowcreme Pumpkins on that list, so clearly I am a confection of a higher caliber. 
  • I've inspired poetry: for a case in point, check out the beautiful poem "Ode to a Mellowcreme Pumpkin" by McPolack, Inc. Here's an excerpt:
Oh, sweet, sweet mellowcreme pumpkin...let's get together tonight in front of the Gilmore Girls
Where I will feast upon you until I very nearly hurl
They don't put nearly enough of you in the Brach's Autumn Mix.
Have you ever seen a poem about Candy Corn? Well, have you? William Wordsworth would surely agree, I am the superior candy.

Mellowcreme strikes back!
I will close by imploring the readers of "Cakespy.com" to reconsider their vote. There is still time to remedy this voting travesty; consider your integrity here. Sure, "Candy Corn" may have dazzled you, what with its showy three colors and unusual shape. But please, look deep in your hearts--and stomachs--because I've got a lot of sweetness to share, if you'll just give me a chance.
Respectfully yours,
M. C. Pumpkin

Mellowcreme strikes back!

 

 

 

Saturday
Oct112008

Cake Poll: Fall Treats!

October Cakespy Giveaway!

Sure, the days are getting shorter and cooler, but they're also getting sweeter. Halloween is just around the corner, a sweet kickoff to what promises to be a fall and winter full of pies, puddings and wonderful holiday treats.
And in celebration of all of this sweetness, this month's Cake Poll focuses on fall treats! The lucky winner will receive an original Cakespy watercolor depicting L'il Cuppie being chased by ghosts (pictured top)--looks like they didn't want to share their candy!

How do you enter? Just answer the below questions to be entered in the running! Responses may be entered in the comments section or emailed to jessieoleson@gmail.com.

  • Which do you prefer: candy corn or mellowcreme pumpkins?
  • Fun-size candy bars: do they make you happy or leave you hungry?
  • Trick-or-treaters without costumes: give 'em candy anyway, or turn 'em away?
  • Halloween candy-eating method: eat it as fast as you can, or ration it out to last?
  • Favorite cold-weather beverage: hot apple cider or hot chocolate?
  • Fall pie faceoff: apple or pumpkin?

The fine print: The poll will be closed at 12 p.m PST on Friday, October 17. As usual, the winner will be chosen at random. Entries from the US and beyond are welcome. Your info will never be shared and these questions are solely motivated by our nosy spy tendencies.

 

....and we have a winner! Our winner was JEAN from New Jersey! Jean entered in our comments section and most definitely prefers Candy Corn! While Mellowcreme Pumpkin may not approve, we were more than happy to see the piece of artwork go to such a sweet home! 


 

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