What the Hell Is Candy Corn Actually Supposed to Taste Like?

We reached out to the candy corn experts to get to the bottom of this Halloween mystery.


When it comes to Halloween candy, few sugary handouts are as polarizing as candy corn.

It's basically the Peeps of fall. Although you've eaten, spit it out, or flat-out refused to touch it countless times in your life, there's a good chance "sugary" or "bad" are the only words you can think of to describe its flavor. But it turns out the true flavor of candy corn is markedly more complex. Really.

What's in candy corn?

If you think about it, the classic kernel-shaped candy doesn't taste like any one specific thing (and it certainly tastes nothing like corn, despite its name), which likely explains all the sugar-fueled speculation over the years. So, what the hell is candy corn actually supposed to taste like (other than cavities)? The ingredients list doesn't offer many clues. Most of the candy corn products we looked at are made mostly of sugar, corn syrup, artificial flavorings, various artificial colorings, and soy protein as well as carnauba wax, presumably for texture.

What's candy corn supposed to taste like?

In 2016, we contacted what's perhaps one of the greatest authorities on the subject, The Jelly Belly Candy Company. You might associate Jelly Belly with jelly beans, but the sweets giant actually got its start making candy corn and other mellocreme/buttercream candies at the turn of the 20th Century as the Goelitz Confectionery Company. It's been making the tricolored sugar triangles ever since.

When reached via email, a spokesperson for Jelly Belly provided the official description of what candy corn is supposed to taste like (emphasis added):

"Candy Corn was modeled after corn in shape, but not taste. The actual flavor of Jelly Belly’s (formerly known by the family name, Goelitz) Candy Corn is a wonderful blend of creamy fondant, rich marshmallow, and warm vanilla notes. When combined, these flavors create the distinct Candy Corn flavor. The texture is as important as the flavor. Our Candy Corn is creamy and smooth; never coarse. It should be like biting into butter."

Wow. Consider our minds blown.

So, why's it called candy corn?

Candy corn is supposed to have marshmallow, vanilla, and buttery caramel-like flavor notes, which combine to form that super-sweet, unique, and often polarizing candy corn flavor. The reason why it's called candy corn is also incredibly simple: It's modeled after the shape of a corn kernel, according to the spokesperson. Really makes you want to eat some candy corn now, doesn't it? Okay, okay, maybe not.

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Tony Merevick is the Managing Editor at Thrillist. Follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick and Instagram @tonymerevick.