Of all the candies handed out to trick-or-treaters on Halloween, candy corn may be the most divisive. Some people see it as a nostalgic treat, while others have compared it to "the shed baby teeth of tiny toddler demons." But even if you're a die-hard candy corn fan, you might have second thoughts about the seasonal staple after reading the ingredients list.
Candy corn is mostly made of sugar—which shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who has ever tasted the candy. There are actually four sweeteners that give candy corn its cloying sweetness: sugar, corn syrup, dextrose, and honey. Candy corn is a "mellow cream," which is sugar and corn syrup combined to make a candy with a marshmallow-like flavor.
The treat is fat-free, but that doesn't mean it's vegan. The ingredient that gives the candy its chewy texture is gelatin—the word the candy industry uses for the collagen derived from the bones, skin, and connective tissues of animals. Candy corn's smooth outer shell is made from another animal product called confectioner's glaze. This is a euphemism for lac-resin, a secretion produced by some species of insects found in Asia. Candy corn also contains additional ingredients that are more familiar to consumers, like sesame oil, food dye, and salt.
If the candy's less-appealing components make you want to skip it this Halloween season, you'll have to do the same for Sugar Babies, Hot Tamales, gummy bears, and Starburst—all of which contain either gelatin or confectioner's glaze. Of course, flavor alone is a good enough reason for many people to avoid candy corn this time of year.