By Halloween night, many of you probably had a stash of candy somewhere in the house — either left over from trick or treating or acquired impulsively in the checkout line. Maybe you’re already absentmindedly ingesting sweets every time you walk past the bowl.
What’s at the bottom of the pile, other than an unsteady promise to follow a healthier diet next week? It’s likely a hearty portion of the holiday’s most maligned staple: candy corn.
Go ahead, have one. Have another. It’s really not that bad. The fragrance of vanilla and autumn. An unusual, pleasing texture that somehow melts in your mouth but still requires aggressive chewing. Sure it’s weird. But it’s a sensory experience you only get in this season.
I remain unconvinced by the performative hatred of candy corn. One of my colleagues derides the treat as a “cavity-inducing nub of wax.” But who out there is looking at their candy haul and reaching for the dried-out, lemon-flavored Tootsie Rolls instead? Where’s the outrage over those duds (or Milk Duds, for that matter, which are also bad)?
Yes, candy corn is actually good. It’s not the best candy, but it’s in a category of special holiday foods whose taste evokes happy memories and centers you in the moment. I’m talking lamb with mint jelly on Easter. Gefilte fish with horseradish on Passover. Eggnog on Christmas.
So goes candy corn. We don’t eat it all year, but we do eat it now. And we can be OK with that.
Look, it took me awhile to admit it to myself, too. It’s satisfying to joke about how good you are at resisting candy — if only one specific kind. But Halloween is about letting your guard down and saying “yes” to sugar. You can be a “no” person the rest of the year.
Way back in olden times when we used to work in an office and touch each other’s food, I would rifle through my colleagues’ Halloween castaways, always suffused with candy corn. I’d look for a mini Snickers, maybe settle for a stale, bland Kit Kat.
The corn stayed — for awhile — but I always wound up going back for a handful or three. Finally, I admitted I was eating it not for lack of alternatives but because I liked it on its own terms. I enjoy biting off the yellow part at the end and eating that first, even though there is no difference in flavor.
When I went to CVS this morning, there was plenty of candy left. But candy corn was in short supply. I guess I moved to a neighborhood where people share my values.
I did find a small package and brought it home to my son, who is 4. I gave him a kernel and asked if he liked it. He said he did. I asked him what it tasted like, and he said “candy corn." Smart kid.
Here at the Rosen household, we’re making memories this Halloween.
Andy Rosen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.