Candy, Corn and Candy Corn

We might deny it, but adults actually consume more candy per year than kids do. The average intake is 22-25 pounds of candy a year. Think about that this Halloween as you fill your pockets with your favorites from your kid’s trick or treat bag. I suppose this is likely because we do not have our mom’s rationing our stash and monitoring our intake.

CANDY is a sweet treat made of sugar.

But it is not that simple; there are precise recipes with varying temperatures, times, and liquid bases, plus techniques and additives for flavor, texture and structure. The Sweet and Snack Expo introduces multiple belly-aches worth of new types and brands of candy onto the market each year.

The most raw form of what may be considered candy is to eat straight honey comb. This practice is thought to have started when cavemen first discovered bee hives, so humans have been eating candy for a very long time! The love of sugar is in our genes, literally, as the craving and desire for sweet flavors is thought to be a survival mechanism to draw us to higher caloric foods. For cavemen, this was important in order to stay alive in times of scarcity (while today we know this is no longer the case!).

Candy Timeline:

  • Candy canes were hooked up in the 1600s in Germany

  • Lollipops popped on the scene in the 1700s in England

  • Chocolate bars were geniously crafted starting in the mid 1800s in England

  • Cotton candy was whipped up in the late 1800s in Nashville

  • Candy Corn was cut into existence in the 1880s in the US

  • Gummi bears were squished together in the 1920s in Germany

So why is it so bad to eat too much candy? Why can we not just have milk chocolate bars for breakfast, Sour Patch Kids for lunch, and red liquorice for dinner?

To make a long, scientific story short, our bodies are not set up to process large amounts of sugar effectively. Our organs and our cells can not keep up with the strain of excess sugar for very long. One night of over indulgent once a year, on the candy holiday that is Halloween, is no big deal, but if trick or treating was a daily, or even monthly, occurrence, we would all be in health trouble.

Oh, and not to mention high sugar increase risk of dental caries, or rotting teeth, by feeding bacteria that live in our mouths (yuck).

candy corn

CORN was found to produce an alternative source of sugar, or more specifically high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), in the 1960s.

As a syrup, it is liquid, and often easier to use in products than table sugar. I am not here today to debate the difference between HFCS and sugar, or our bodies response to it. I will say that the discovery of HFCS did not increase candy production, nor did its consumption contribute to the higher percentage of total calories that ultimately lead to increased obesity rates.

However, the true percentage of extra calories from sugars, HFCS or not, is hard to tell, in my opinion, within a food system where manufacturers put sweeteners in anything coleslaw to cans of chili.

What is nice about candy is that it is not trying to be something else. We KNOW it is full of sugar and is not good for us in high quantities (or if you didn’t before, you know now). Where many other food products in our grocery stores are not as black and white. Many of them are disguised as healthy, or at least benign, foods. In reality, the amount of sugar or HFCS found in some of these products may be as much or more than the straight-to-the-point candy bars and chocolate treats seen looming at the check-out counter.

CANDY CORN is a holiday derived sweet treat.

Candy is a halloween tradition + corn is a fall harvest crop= candy corn!

The fact that candy corn is (today) made from corn syrup is ironic, at best, but otherwise it is just another variety of candy to add to the trick or treat bag (or to the bowl on the office table).

And p.s. TODAY IS NATIONAL CANDY CORN DAY.

Sources:

Candy History: http://www.candyhistory.net

John S White. Straight talk about high-fructose corn syrup: what it is and what it ain’t. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2008. Online at: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/88/6/1716S.full

Harvard T.H. Chan Added Sugar in the Diet: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/added-sugar-in-the-diet/

National Confectioners Assocaition: http://www.candyusa.com/data-insights/

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