When New York parents want to spare no expense for little Jimmy while still indulging his craving for corn syrup, they might traipse over to Dean and Deluca’s, where a six-ounce silver bag of candy corn can be had for $3. The rest of us surreptitiously grab a bag of Brach’s while in line at Walgreens, where 16 ounces goes for $1.50.
The Dean and Deluca shoppers might be surprised to discover that–while their candy costs more than five times what the conventional version does–the ingredients are identical. Our friends sugar and corn syrup are the first two ingredients in both candies. After the sugars, both ingredient lists run on in the familiar litany: canuba wax, coconut oil, yellow #6, red #40, and blue #1, et cetera.
It’s true that (should the candy be spotted in your bag) the twee, silvery Dean and Deluca packet is not as embarrassing as the gigantic plastic bag of Brach’s–in rather the same way that porn magazines are sent out in discreet packaging to camouflage the trashy contents. Still, we thought the candy corn that’s five times as expensive had to have something going for it, flavor-wise, so the intrepid Fork in the Road team submitted to a blind taste test of the yuppified candy corn versus the old-school candy corn.
The first thing you notice about the two candies side-by-side is that Dean and Deluca’s is paler, and more subdued in color, as though it were trying to make you forget about all that yellow #5, while Brach’s lets its artificial flag fly, looking, in the words of one taster, “like a nuclear sunset.” The Dean and Deluca candies were also more uniform and attractive in appearance (hand-crafted by artisanal elves, surely).
And despite the fact that the ingredient lists are so similar, the two versions taste remarkably different. “This one is definitely sweeter,” said one taster of Dean and Deluca’s, which had a simple, sugary, vanilla flavor–as though they were trying to be subtle. Actually, they were way, way, way too sweet, if you can even imagine such a thing in the world of candy corn. So sweet, our fillings ached and we considered forswearing candy corn forever.
Brach’s little yellow nuggets, on the other hand, tasted more robust, with the slightest salty, caramel-y edge. “Tastes like the inside of a plastic bag,” noted one taster, approvingly. They are exactly as candy corn should be–familiarly sweet with a comforting chew.
Thus, old-school candy corn reigns victorious, forever and ever, amen.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 15, 2009