This Halloween, people are going loco for cocoa. Milk chocolate is far and away the most popular item on the fright night menu, according to a study by Nielsen IQ. Americans buy more chocolate candies than all other competitors by a 2:1 margin. In fact, chocolate makes up 65% of the overall $3.7 billion candy business.
But there is one classic candy item that consistently appears to be losing favor. Candy corn. Those orange, yellow, and white kernels have dropped in sales every year since 2018, reaching an all-time low in 2022. Meanwhile, sales of upstart candies such as gummies and marshmallows have increased 30%.
Why Candy Corn is Collapsing
Candy corn is as synonymous with trick or treating as pumpkins and witches, so why are people souring on the confection?
“Either people love it or hate it,” Beth Kimmerle, founder of found industry data company Attribute Analytics told CNN. She says the marshmallowy vanilla taste has not aged well.
Earlier this year, her company performed a flavor profile in which a taste panel described Candy corn’s flavor as “sweet” and “chemical.” Meanwhile, Gummi Bears were described in much more favorable terms. “Gummies bounce around playfully in your mouth while you’re chewing, and they dissolve,” Kimmerle said. However, Candy corn is chewy and sticky and lasts a while.
Where Does Candy Corn Come From?
Candy corn has a storied history. It was invented in 1883 by George Renninger, a candymaker at the Wunderlee Candy Company in Philadelphia. It was called candy corn because the colors represent the various colors of a kernel of corn. Later, The Goelitz Confectionery Company brought candy corn to the people. The company is now called Jelly Belly Candy Co.
The current leader in the candy corn game is Brach’s, which churns out 30 million pounds of the stuff every year. While revenue from Brach’s candy corn has increased for the last few years, the total units sold have decreased, indicating that the revenue surge has more to do with the price increase than popularity.
Still, people managed to plop down $30 million last year on candy corn. Is it a hate buy?
“I would put it in the category of something that people feel compelled to buy because of the nostalgia factor,” Kimmerle explained.