Candy corn sales expected to top $73M: How Halloween's controversial treat got its start

Love em or hate em, candy corn does sweet sales for one American company

Even though it's been a signature fall treat for more than 100 years, candy corn has somehow become one of Halloween's biggest controversies. People either love the small, tri-colored treats or hate them.

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According to the National Confectioners Association (NCA), candy corn was first invented by a man named George Renninger in the 1880s. Renninger worked for the Wunderlee Candy Company, which was the first company to make the sweet.

The Goelitz Candy Company -- which later became the Jelly Belly Candy Company -- quickly followed Wunderlee, specializing in candy corn beginning in 1898, according to the Jelly Belly website.

Jelly Belly still makes candy corn, but the top seller of the treat on Halloween is Brach's, owned by the Ferrara Candy Company.

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Illinois-based Brach's produces approximately 7 billion pieces of candy corn every year and has 85 percent of the total share of the candy corn industry during Halloween, according to Peter Goldman, VP of Marketing for Brach's and Seasonal Confections at Ferrara.

The company sold more than $73 million worth of candy corn during the Halloween season last year and expects to do similarly this year, Goldman told FOX Business.

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When it was first invented, candy corn was "considered revolutionary" because of its three colors, the NCA said on its website. At the time, "the public went crazy for it," the association added.

And while people still gobble up the treat today, it's not always seen in a positive light.

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"The fact that we are considered the most and the least popular candy speaks to just how prevalent the category is overall," Goldman said. "It's like a sports team — sometimes the best team and the worst team in a league are talked about by fans just as much."

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Candy corn is so closely associated with Halloween partly because the sweet was only produced seasonally during the 1900s. Producing it manually, without automated machines, made candy corn difficult to make throughout the whole year, the NCA said on its website.

Brach's, however, has now expanded beyond just Halloween for their candy corn to include "Donut Shoppe," fruity "Mermaid" and "Pumpkin Pie" flavors.