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Every Tuesday at 7:42 a.m. and 5:18 p.m., Tom Harte shares a few thoughts on food and shares recipes. A founder of “My Daddy’s Cheesecake,” a bakery/café in Cape Girardeau, a food columnist for The Southeast Missourian, and a cookbook author, he also blends his passion for food with his passion for classical music in his daily program, The Caffe Concerto.

A Harte Appetite: Candy Corn

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Just about every major holiday in America is associated with its own signature version of what Jonathan Barlett, author of The Cook's Dictionary and Culinary Reference, calls those "sugary confections that feed our sweet tooth, rot our teeth and lift our spirits." At Christmas it's the candy cane, on Valentine's Day it's the chocolate heart, for Easter it's Marshmallow Peeps and come Halloween it's candy corn.

Though candy corn is available year round, 75% of its annual sales occur around Halloween. Thus each Halloween Americans buy some 35 million pounds of candy corn which works out to about 9 billion kernals. Moreover, it's not just kids who love the candy. The majority of it is actually eaten by adults -- nostalgic for their childhood.

Candy corn has even achieved something of a cult status. There are well over 200 videos on YouTube which feature it including one of a candy corn figures dancing to Michael Jackson's hit recording of "Thriller."

All of this would no doubt have surprised George Renninger, the employee of Philadelphia's now defunct Wunderle Candy Company who invented the tri-color white yellow and orange candy back in the 1880s. Utilizing a somewhat tedious process wherein kernal shaped molds were filled by hand -- one color at a time with a candy mixture made mainly from sugar, water and corn syrup. So candy corn actually does contain real corn after a fashion.

No doubt the best thing to do with candy corn is simply eat it out of hand but you can use it as an ingredient in other confections such as fudge or cookies. My favorite preparation is candy corn on the cob made by pressing rows of the stuff into fresh twinkie.

Tom Harte is a retired faculty member from Southeast Missouri State University where he was an award-winning teacher, a nationally recognized debate coach, and chair of the department of Speech Communication and Theatre.
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