The History of Candy Corn

The History of Candy Corn

Not always for Halloween...

10/27/2023 | Angela Whitlock, CSRA


Did You Know?...that candy corn has historical ties to Illinois? 


Well, the company that popularized candy corn was founded in Belleville, Illinois, about three hours southwest of Champaign County!

Goelitz Confectionary Co. was founded in 1869 by Gustav Goelitz. His sons carried on the candy making business, moving it to Ohio in 1889. They also purchased the recipe for candy corn from Wunderle Candy Company, with the invention of the mellocreme treat attributed to George Renninger, a Wunderle employee. 

Goelitz started marketing the kernels of "corn" as a candy they called "Chicken Feed." Throughout the 1880s, other popular mellowcreme confections were molded in the shape of chestnuts, turnips, pumpkins, clover leaves, and other agricultural products. Perhaps inspired by their original location of Illinois, Chicken Feed was marketed to farmers and their families. At that time, candy corn had no association to Halloween whatsoever. 

At the beginning of the 20th century, candy corn was a common penny candy, a type of candy that children could buy in bulk for little money. As Halloween became more associated with candy, which wasn't until the 1950s, candy corn became more associated with Halloween. 

It might not be surprising, then, to learn that National Candy Corn Day is October 30th! 

Now known as the Jelly Belly Candy Company, they still make candy corn using essentially the same recipe as it was in the late 19th century. However, the largest manufacturer of candy corn today is Brach's Confections, owned by the Ferrara Candy Company. 

Brach's has taken candy corn one step further and has been releasing themed bags of candy corn, such as Turkey Dinner, Fall Festival, and Tailgate, (as well as a Taco Truck themed bag of Jelly Bellys) since 2020. Flavors included in these bags consist of such food replications as: Roasted Turkey, Strawberry Funnel Cake, and Hot Dog. 

The museum staff has had the privilege of taste testing many of these themed bags, through the dedication of one of our staff. Some of our favorite flavors have consisted of Caramel Apple and Kettle Corn, with least favorite flavors consisting of Green Bean Casserole, Hot Dog, and Strawberry Lemonade. Either way, it's been fun tasting all of the different (and bizarre) flavors!

Don't forget to mark your calendars and celebrate National Candy Corn Day on October 30th! 


References:,,,,,, Food & Wine Magazine, Candy Bites: The Science of Sweets