New Twists on Old-School Halloween Candy -- Some Tastier Than Others

Categories: Top Lists
Jonathan McNamara

Recently, we've noticed that the kitsch factor on candy corn has really kicked up a notch. One kids TV channel has its own homage to (rather, against) the sugary treat, called "I Don't Like Candy Corn".

And lately there's been a lot of discussion on the Web about how to make homemade candy corn, which we find pretty funny, considering it's hard to imagine a more processed treat. Still, we were tempted. We've tried to make homemade candy corn once already this year, with pretty bad results (let's just say an 8-year-old remarked that the dough looked like it was for Flamin' Hot Cheetos) but we're going to give it another shot with this recipe. We promise to share the results.

Meantime, we've been perusing the aisles at Walgreen's and other candy-selling establishments, and have noticed a proliferation of variations on the candy corn theme -- and we're not just talking about Autumn Mix, where those adorable little pumpkins are mixed in with the traditional corn along with Indian corn (the kind with the brown -- we're not necessarily so sure they're chocolate -- bottoms).

Using Autumn Mix as our baseline, yesterday some members of the Phoenix New Times staff conducted a completely unscientific taste test of a variety of old-school Halloween candy, all of it with a new twist.

Sadly, our Chief Candy Expert, Sarah Fenske, was covering breaking news. But we gathered a team including Food Critic Michele Laudig, and others with a lot of expertise. Following is our take on eight new versions of the classics.

Jonathan McNamara
Candy Corn Dots

1. Candy Corn Dots

This was the boldest new item, and aside from apple-flavored candy corn (more on that later) it got the worst reviews. Only Peter, our Art Director -- a man not afraid to admit he hates candy corn --  liked them, and in fact requested the box when we were done with photos.

The Dots are pretty -- colored in pastel shades of yellow and orange, shaped just like the classics, but with even less flavor. "It's like candy corn breathed on these," Web Editor Jonathan commented.

"These taste like 1980s erasers," our food critic announced, adding hastily, "not that I would know."

We all stared at her til she admitted she spent a lot of time sniffing erasers, back in the day.  

2. Brachs Milk Maid Caramel Candy Corn

Though no one could discern the "real milk" the package advertised, these were a hit -- the exact same shape, size and consistency of traditional Brachs candy corn, but with a strong caramel flavor. Nothing gourmet here, this isn't part of the salted caramel craze or anything, but definitely edible. 

3. Brachs Milk Maid Chocolate Caramel Candy Corn

Not much chocolate taste here, but these were not at all offensive (which is saying something considering some of the others we tried). They were good mixed with the caramel candy corn. Michele noticed that the chocolate taste was akin to a chocolate lollipop (like the outside of a Tootsie Pop) rather than a real piece of chocolate. Not surprising, for 99 cents for a huge bag.

Jonathan McNamara
Candy Apple Candy Corn and Ghost Peeps

4. Brachs Milk Maid Caramel Apple Candy Corn

Seriously, did anyone from Brachs actually taste these before manufacturing and distributing? This was the only candy anyone (okay, it was me) actually spit out into the garbage can. It tasted like a green apple Jolly Rancher, only in the body of a bright red piece of candy corn. 

"It tastes the way vitamins smell," Art Director Peter commented. At this point, at least one of our tasters left the room.

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