As Halloween fast approaches, Jack O’Lanterns, black cats, creepy tales about ghosts and goblins abound. But my mind is drawn in the direction of something truly frightening. Something that has nothing to do with apparitions, zombies or cackling witches, but is infinitely more terrifying and gag-inducing:
These pellets of tooth rotting mouth burn have been haunting the US and Canada since the 1880s. Made from all naturally bad ingredients — sugar, corn syrup, carnauba wax and artificial coloring, the National Confectioners Association estimates that 25 million pounds of this poison are sold annually.
The name candy corn always sounded so appetizing to me as a child. I liked candy. I liked corn. I still like both candy and corn. But every time I ate candy corn I would feel bamboozled.
Me (as a child): This doesn’t taste anything like candy or corn! It tastes awful!
It was too sweet, too fake and if I ate more than two pieces at one time, I would feel like I had a sore throat for three days. To my sensitive palate, candy corn’s most prominent ingredient is irritation with tooth decay a close second. Possibly I am in the minority i.e., someone who is not drawn to foodstuffs that are derived from dual-purpose ingredients. Carnauba wax can also be used on cars, surfboards and to shine shoes. Shoe polish is more appetizing to me. I like its smell, not to imply that I’d also like it spread on a cracker.
As for candy corn’s artificial food coloring, what might it look like without it? Marlon Brando is famous for saying:
Marlon Brando: The most repulsive thing you could ever imagine is the inside of a camel’s mouth.
As I imagine what candy corn looks like in its natural state, hardened repugnant fluids are crossing my mind. I’d much rather take a gander deep down a camel’s gullet, but while wearing nose plugs.
As I think about rank scents, the overly sweet, cloying smell of candy corn is noxious to me. When I whiffed the contents of this bag of it …
My eyes started watering and I suffered a wave of nausea. If Wayne Newton had been playing on the radio, I would have become physically ill.
It baffles me why something so toxic does not come with a Surgeon General’s warning. Anyone pregnant, nursing or would like to live beyond age sixty should not eat this cacophony of bad chemistry. I looked at a cross section of a piece of one where the bottom fell out. It appeared stuffed with something. My first guess is bad vibes. My second is the active ingredient in toenail fungus.
Considering that 25 million pounds of this blight is sold annually, someone must do the unthinkable: eat it. How can this be? Who are these people? Could it be scoring a big hit with small fry who have underdeveloped taste buds? Or, the elderly who are so heavily medicated that their taste buds are obliterated? Who likes these toxic lumps? I want to know. Are they inbred, do they have the intellectual acuity of a small soap dish, do they hail from the town of Stepford?
25 million pounds is 12,500 tons. The Statue of Liberty weighs 125 tons. Who in the US and Canada is contributing to ingesting the equivalent of one hundred statues of liberty made out of sugar, car wax and artificial food coloring instead of the infinitely tastier combination of copper and steel? Here’s a scary thought: could I know someone that eats candy corn? I must, but who could that be? Neither of my parents were candy corn eaters. My dad liked peanuts and my mother, cheese. My siblings and niece are not candy corn eaters, either, and my brother-in-law, Herb, likes waffles. I’m a product of a completely candy corn-free family. But someone in my orbit must be doing his or her part to keep candy corn thriving ever since Grover Cleveland was president. Confounded, I vented my frustration about this bottomless pit of orange, yellow and white scourge haunting every Halloween to my trusted confidant, my best friend, Milton. He responded to my tirade with a photo of his desk at his Grind.