Chicken Feed

Candy Corn… 

Do you cringe at the mere thought or start salivating in anticipation?  There doesn’t seem to be much in between.  You either love it or hate it.  Friday, Oct 30 is National Candy Corn Day and those who love it can hardly wait to celebrate this odd treat.  

In the 1880s, George Renninger of Wunderle Candy Company created candy corn. His sweet treat represented the bright colors of corn kernels in white, orange and yellow. The cooking process was done by hand: a sugar and corn syrup-based mixture was cooked into a slurry (a semi-liquid mixture) in a large kettle, dumped into buckets called runners, and men, dubbed stringers, walked backwards, pouring the hot concoction into a tray of molds in the shape of corn kernels. 

It wasn’t until 1889 the candy actually came into popularity.  The Goelitz Candy Company (now the Jelly Belly Candy Company) obtained the recipe and started marketing the kernels as a candy called Chicken Feed.  Before World War I, most Americans didn’t really think of corn as people food. Even after World War I, candy corn maintained its association with chickens. Packages of Goelitz’s candy corn from the 1920’s displayed a rooster and the motto, “King of the Candy Corn Fields.” 

In the first half of the 20th century, candy corn became a common “penny candy.” These were the types of treats kids could buy in bulk for very little money. Beginning in the 50’s, Halloween became more and more candy centered.  Candy corn started becoming more and more a candy associated with Halloween as advertising for candy corn spiked in October every year.  While all candy was advertised, the other candies were advertised all year whereas the candy corn was really only advertised in October.

Today, Jelly Belly can make 3,500 pounds of this candy every hour, and the National Confectioners Association estimates they sell 9 billion kernels every year. That’s more than 35 million pounds! Wow! This week, I made a few goodies with this - Halloween’s most popular candy.  Make your grocery list and meet me in the kitchen for candy corn confections!

Candy Corn Cupcakes

1 package white cake mix

Ingredients called for on box

2 tsps. pure vanilla extract

Orange and yellow food coloring

Vanilla frosting

Assorted decorations such as orange sprinkles and candy corn if desired

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place cupcake liners in muffin tin.  Prepare cake mix as directed on package, adding vanilla. Divide batter in half between two bowls. Tint one batch yellow using yellow food color. Tint second batch orange using orange food color.  Colors will mute while baking so go darker with the batter.  Fill paper-lined muffin cups 1/3 full with yellow batter. Add orange batter on top of yellow batter, filling each muffin cup 2/3 full. Bake as directed on cake mix package for cupcakes. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes.  Remove cupcakes to a wire rack.  Cool completely before frosting. Frost as desired.  Decorate with sprinkles and top with candy corn, if desired.


Halloween Harvest Mix

¾ cup butter, melted

¾ cup packed brown sugar

2 Tbsps. pure vanilla extract

4 cups Rice Chex cereal

3 cups Bugles

4 cups Pretzels

1 heaping cup candy corn

1 heaping cup candy corn pumpkins

1 8oz bag Reese's Pieces or Halloween M&M’s

Preheat the oven to 275°F.  Melt butter in microwave in medium bowl or measuring cup. Add brown sugar and vanilla extract and whisk well until combined and dissolved.  In large bowl, add cereal, pretzels and Bugles. Pour sauce over mixture and toss gently until evenly coated. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide mixture on baking sheets and spread in even layers. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Then return to bowl, along with candy corn, pumpkins and Reese's Pieces. Toss to combine. Store in airtight container up to 1 week.

Note: instead of getting separate bags of candy corn, I got what’s called the autumn mix.  It has traditional candy corn, a brown and orange version and the pumpkins all in one bag. 

Recipe adapted from


Monster Munch

3 cups kettle corn

2 cups pretzels

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted

1 cup white chocolate chips, melted

½ cup candy corn

½ cup M&M's

On a parchment-lined baking sheet, place single layer of kettle corn. Mix in pretzels, making sure to keep it a single layer.  Drizzle kettle corn and pretzels with melted semisweet chocolate, making sure to drizzle lines very close together (you want majority of mix to be covered in chocolate). Top with candy corn and M&M's and drizzle with melted white chocolate. Freeze or refrigerate until chocolate is firm. Break into pieces and serve.

Recipe adapted from


Candy Corn Cookies

½ cup unsalted butter, soften

 ¾ cup light brown sugar, packed

 ¼ cup granulated sugar

 1 large egg

 2 tsps. pure vanilla extract

 2 Tbsps. heavy cream 

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

 pinch salt

 1 cups candy corn

 1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F and line baking sheet with parchment paper. To bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together first 5 ingredients on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl and add next 5 ingredients.  Mix on low speed until just incorporated, about 1 minute. Don’t overmix. Add candy corn and white chocolate chips, and mix until just incorporated. Using medium 2-inch cookie scoop, form heaping two-tablespoon mounds. Place mounds on large plate, flatten mounds slightly, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or up to 5 days, before baking. Do not bake with warm dough because cookies will spread and bake thinner and flatter. Place mounds on baking sheet, spaced at least 2 inches apart (I bake 8 cookies per sheet) and bake for about 9 minutes, or until edges have set and tops are just beginning to set, even if slightly undercooked, pale and glossy in the center. Do not overbake because cookies will firm up as they cool. Baking longer than 10 minutes could result in cookies with overly browned undersides. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Note: Candy corn is candy.  It will melt, and run out of the cookies.  If this is going to bother you, place candy corn so it’s not baking directly on cookie sheet if possible. The candy corn pieces need to be in the interior of the cookies, shielded by dough. 

Recipe from