One of the most divisive fall candies is candy corn. For some reason, a lot of people have very strong opinions on this sweet. What about candy corn makes so many people love it and so many others hate it?
Image from Vox
Candy corn was invented at the end of the 1800s. At this time, the US was largely agrarian, so it was popular to make candy shaped like agricultural products to appeal to farmers' children. Pieces of candy corn don't look very much like corn by themselves (until you bite down to the yellow part, of course), but when the pieces are stacked together they look like a corn cob.
Like most other candies, one of the main ingredients in candy corn is sugar. Candy corn is also made with fondant, corn syrup, marshmallow, vanilla flavoring and gelatin (among other things). Because candy corn contains gelatin, it isn't vegetarian/vegan friendly. Additionally, it contains a substance made from insects. While gross sounding, this substance is actually very common and FDA approved.
Most consumers are probably unaware of the insect product lurking in these candies, so that isn't the cause of the controversy. The main things that either makes or breaks candy corn is its taste.
Image from Southern Living
While vanilla is the only ingredient that is clearly meant for flavoring, candy corn also derives its flavor from marshmallow and fondant. Candy corn's unique texture can be attributed to the fondant and gelatin.
So really, a person's opinion of candy corn comes down to if that person is a fan of fondant and marshmallow. Fondant and marshmallows don't come up very often in day-to-day life, but around this time of year, candy corn magically appears all over stores. It's much easier for people to have strong takes on things that they see all over the place than things they don't encounter as much.
The great candy corn debate wouldn't exist if stores didn't hype it up in the fall or if companies refrained from making things like candy corn flavored cookies and cereal. Above all, candy corn is a trend that comes around every year, and people have hot takes on trends.
Yes, another one of your favorite fall food groups doesn't actually have any pumpkin in it. However, unlike pumpkin flavored products, pumpkin spiced coffees never claimed to have or taste like pumpkin.
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Pumpkin spice, also known as pumpkin pie spice, is simply a mixture of spices that people normally put in pumpkin pies. The spice blend consists of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and allspice. You can actually find little jars of the blend premixed.
It's actually a misconception that pumpkin spice foods are pumpkin flavored. This news is probably disappointing if you were planning on picking up some pumpkin spice cookies or cereal, but it does makes pumpkin spiced chicken wings a little more appetizing (even if they are still a bit odd).
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Starbucks introduced the first pumpkin spice lattes 15 years ago, but only started putting pumpkin puree in these popular drinks a few years ago, so the PSL you fell in love with didn't have any pumpkin at all.
Even now, pumpkin spice coffee drinks have very little pumpkin puree in them. Homemade pumpkin spice latte recipes only call for a couple of tablespoons of pumpkin. With all of the spices in there, you won't even be able to taste the pumpkin. Cloves alone are very overpowering, so adding a ton of cinnamon and other spices completely mask any other flavor.
Even if they don't taste like pumpkin, people still love pumpkin spice foods. Are you a fan of the pumpkin spice trend, or are you over it?
Pumpkins are, without a doubt, the biggest symbol of fall. It's hard to leave the house in October without seeing a pumpkin. People love pumpkins and use them in so many ways. People pick them, carve them and even eat them...or at least they think they do.
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All of those tasty pumpkin-flavored treats actually have little to no pumpkin in them. The canned pumpkin puree that we use to make pies, breads and more say "100% Pumpkin" on them, but they actually contain a blend of other squashes. Sometimes this blend includes actual pumpkins, but there's no guarantee.
Food manufacturers have to list all ingredients, so it probably seems wrong for foods to be labeled as just pumpkin when there are other squashes involved. Despite this, it is perfectly legal for manufacturers to omit the other squashes from the list.
Image from Mother Nature Network
The FDA does require food packaging to list all of the ingredients the food contains, and it also has the power to define what ingredients are. With the case of pumpkins, the FDA is pretty loose with the term. While we think of pumpkins as those big orange squashes, the FDA defines pumpkin as "golden-fleshed, sweet squash or mixtures of such squash and field pumpkin."
The FDA acknowledges that field pumpkins are different from other squashes, but allows producers to label them all as "pumpkin" when pureed because the organization doesn't think this labeling is intended to deceive consumers.
However, people do feel pretty deceived when they find out about this. Even though we love pumpkins and want to eat them, according to Mental Floss, pumpkins don't taste good and are hard to puree. So, it's probably best that we stick to pretending.