Posts Tagged With: Halloween

Review: Brach’s Flavored Candy Corn

There are three sure signs that autumn is fast approaching: the leaves begin to change color, pumpkins start showing up everywhere, and Halloween candy hits the stores. Perhaps the most ubiquitous of all seasonal sweets is Candy Corn.

Candy Corn dates back to the 1880s, and was the brainchild of George Renninger, an employee of the Wunderlee Candy Company in Philadelphia. The shape and colors are meant to resemble actual kernels of corn, though size-wise the candy is about three times as large. Candy Corn was originally made by hand and contained sugar, corn syrup, confectioner’s wax, fondant, and marshmallows. The mixture was warmed and poured into buckets, before being transferred to kernel-shaped molds by men called “stringers.” It took three passes, one for each of the colors (white, orange, and yellow). The process has since been automated, but the recipe is largely unchanged.

As popular as Candy Corn is – Brach’s sells between 9 billion and 15 billion kernels every year – it’s also one of the more reviled candies, ranking poorly in some consumer research polls. My own family would seem to back this up: neither my wife nor daughter are fans, though I love the stuff. You can find more information on our National Candy Corn Day post from last October.

Different variations of Candy Corn are available year-round these days. Over the past few years, new seasonal flavors have been added, including caramel apple and green apple (2011), pumpkin spice and S’mores (2013), and caramel macchiato and apple pie (2014). We decided to review a handful of these newer flavors, settling on caramel apple, pumpkin spice, and apple pie.

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Results were a mixed bag (pardon the pun). None were as good as the original. Why mess with perfection?

All three varieties had the same chewiness and “mouth feel” as regular ol’ Candy Corn, but diverged from there. The caramel apple were the worst. They  lacked any discernible flavor, making the effort of eating them pointless. Rating: 1 Knife. Don’t waste your time.

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The pumpkin spice, at least, had plenty of pumpkin spice-y flavor – a little too much, IMHO. I don’t blame Brach’s for jumping on the pumpkin spice flavor trend; we can thank Starbucks for that, with the explosive popularity of their seasonal pumpkin spice lattes. These had the same flavor profile, and definitely woke up the senses. And dammit, they smell just like autumn. Rating: 3 Knives. OK in small doses.

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The best of the bunch, by a long shot, were the apple pie. Believe it or not, they taste exactly like their namesake: you get clear hints of apple, cinnamon, and brown sugar. I was tempted to warm them up and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Candy Corn à la mode, anybody? Rating: 4 Knives. The resemblance to real apple pie is uncanny.

4 Knives

 

 

 

 

 

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Categories: Candy | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

304/365: National Caramel Apple Day

Happy Halloween! I’m not going to trick you: today’s food holiday is a real treat. October 31 is National Caramel Apple Day!

National Caramel Apple DayOnce upon a time, people handed out homemade caramel apples to trick-or-treaters who came to their doorsteps, but the fear of candy tampering put an end to this. That’s a real shame, because personally I’d much rather have a caramel apple than a lame Tootsie Roll, but that’s just me. Caramel apples were invented in the 1950s by Dan Walker, a sales representative for Kraft Foods. Individually-wrapped caramels were one of Kraft’s top-selling candies, and Walker’s creation led to increased sales (and probably made apple growers pretty happy, too). Recipes for caramel apples were printed on the labels, and still appear to this day. Vito Raimondi invented and patented a caramel apple making machine in 1960, speeding up the manufacturing process. Most people are content to make their own nowadays.

I hadn’t had a caramel apple in years. A couple of weeks ago we went to Hood River, Oregon to buy fresh apples along the “Fruit Loop.” We had some tart, crispy Crimson Crisps left over, so we made caramel apples from scratch. (Well, using a packaged caramel apple kit, but close enough). The contrast between sweet and tart, soft and crisp was wonderful!

Hope you had a spooktacular Halloween!

Categories: Candy, Fruit | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

303/365: National Candy Corn Day

Today’s food holiday celebrates a confection synonymous with Halloween, and one of my favorite candies. October 30 is National Candy Corn Day!

The funny thing is, I wasn’t always a fan of candy corn. I never cared for it while growing up. In fact, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I discovered how delicious this candy actually is! I’ve been hooked ever since. I even blogged about it last year, so if you’re interested in reading more about my personal obsession with candy corn, follow the link.

Candy corn was invented by George Renninger of the Wunderle Candy Company of Philadelphia in the 1880s. The traditional colors of candy corn – a wide yellow end, an orange center, and a white tip – are meant to resemble kernels of corn, though they’re about triple the size of a real kernel. Candy corn was originally made by hand, and while the process remains the same, most of it is automated today. The recipe is unchanged, as well; it’s mostly sugar, corn syrup, carnauba wax, and artificial coloring. Fondant and marshmallows are added for texture. While primarily associated with Halloween, different versions of candy corn are now made to coincide with other holidays. “Reindeer corn” for Christmas has a red end and green center, “Cupid corn” for Valentine’s Day has a red end and pink center, and “Bunny corn” for Easter is a two-colored version with a white tip and a variety of pastel-colored bases. New variations this year included s’mores and pumpkin spice flavors.

I suppose we could have gone upscale and celebrated with a candy corn cocktail (all the rage lately) or some other concoction, but in this case, simple is best. We enjoyed a handful of candy corn straight up!

National Candy Corn Day

Categories: Candy | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

299/365: National Pumpkin Day*

Orange you glad there’s a holiday devoted to your favorite gourd? October 26 is National Pumpkin Day!

It’s also National Pretzel Day and National Mincemeat Pie Day. I’d have loved to grabbed a pretzel and called it good – it doesn’t get much easier than that, and we’re on the road in Denver this weekend – but we already celebrated pretzels back in April. Duplicate food holidays annoy me. And I’m not much of a mincemeat fan, so pumpkin it is! But we’re going to pass on the obvious, pumpkin pie, because there’s a special food holiday devoted to that particular dessert (December 25, of all days)! Fortunately, pumpkin-flavored anything is all the rage these days, so it wasn’t difficult to find a way to celebrate this holiday, even from the road.

Pumpkin is derived from the Greek word pepon and means “large melon.”  It is a type of winter squash native to North America, and traditionally refers to round, orange varieties of squash that are commonly carved into jack-o-lanterns for Halloween, and made into pies in the fall months, when they are ready for harvesting. They are one of the most popular crops in the U.S., with 1.5 billion pounds being produced annually; top growing states are Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California. Most parts of the pumpkin are edible including the shell, seeds, flowers, and leaves. They were a Native American staple, and were cut into thin strips and roasted over a fire to serve as sustenance during the long, harsh winters. The flesh was roasted, baked, parched, boiled, and dried, and the seeds were used as a type of medicine. Even the hard shells did not go to waste; these were used as bowls and containers to store grains, beans, and seeds. Columbus brought pumpkin seeds back with him to Europe, but these were fed to pigs and were not seen as fit for human consumption.National Pumpkin Day

Ol’ Christopher was wrong. Pumpkins are delicious! We celebrated by grabbing a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks this morning. This seasonal favorite is always highly anticipated when fall rolls around, and today’s tasted extra delicious!

Stay tuned for a special announcement regarding Eat My Words tomorrow.

Categories: Fruit | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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