What’s In It? Wednesday—Halloween Edition

Candy Corn

This week’s Halloween edition of “What’s In It? Wednesday” is brought to you by Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil! Corn Syrup! AND! Artificial Flavor! Yippee!

Hey, I don’t want to be a downer, but I AM interested in what our kids are eating on Halloween. I’m not going to deprive my little boy of his milkfat and soy lecithin, don’t you worry your pretty little head about that.

This post was going to be about several Halloween candies, but as I started looking, I found one candy that sounds worse than the others. Unfortunately, it’s not Snickers, which is my favorite (though Snickers is pretty bad, and it has TONS of sugar and fat).

It’s CANDY CORN! Sounds so harmless, doesn’t it?

The ingredients in candy corn can be some or all of the following: Sugar, Corn Syrup, Soy Protein, Gelatin, Confectioner’s Glaze, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Salt, Dextrose, Titanium Dioxide Color, Artificial Colors, (FDC Yellow 6 Lake, Red #40, Red 40 Lake, Yellow #5, Yellow #6, Blue 1 Lake, Blue #1, Yellow 5 Lake), Egg Whites, Honey Glycerin, Mineral Oil, Carnauba Wax

OK, there doesn’t seem to be one redeeming ingredient. MAYBE egg whites, but we’ll see if those are processed. We’ll probably never know what the Natural and Artificial Flavors consist of, and the first two ingredients are sugar. Yes, I know it’s Halloween candy, but does anyone really like this stuff enough to eat it after knowing what is in it? If you’re still not convinced, here is a more in-depth explanation of each ingredient.

Sugar. Each serving of Candy Corn (about 20 pieces) has about 28 grams of sugar, slightly less than a Hershey chocolate bar. The general rule is that you don’t want to eat anything that has sugar as its first ingredient. Of course, yes, it’s Halloween and this isn’t the worst ingredient in Candy Corn by far.

Corn Syrup. This is a huge topic, so I’m not going to go into it here, but if you’re interested in how Corn Syrup is made, check it out here. Lots of photos too. Also, to learn about how corn is in just about everything we eat, I highly recommend the book Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. I haven’t seen the movie King Corn yet, but it’s all about corn and agriculture in the U.S. as well. Worth checking out.

Soy Protein. Soy protein is used for emulsification and texturizing. You can read more about it here.

Gelatin. A translucent, colorless, brittle (when dry), nearly tasteless solid substance, derived from the collagen inside animals’ skin and bones. This is used as a gelling agent. Not purely vegetarian/vegan.

Confectioner’s Glaze. This is a really nice name for “wax-free shellac” or “food-grade lacquer.” Is it necessary for the taste of the candy corn? Nope. It’s for visual effect! This is from Wikipedia:

Pharmaceutical glaze is an alcohol-based solution of various types of food grade shellac. When used in food and confections, it is also known as confectioner’s glaze, resinous glaze, pure food glaze and natural glaze. It is also known colloquially in the manufacturing world as beetle juice due to shellac’s derivation from the lac insect Kerria lacca (which is not a beetle, but a scale insect).

Depending upon how hardcore you are, this is not strictly a vegetarian/vegan option. This ingredient is in other items such as pills, sprinkles and jelly beans. If that’s not enough of a turn off, check out this site’s description of how the lac insects are cultivated. Ew.

Natural and Artificial Flavors – this pretty much means that all of the flavors could be artificial in the way that most people think of artificial. It could mean that there are actually some natural flavors as far as what most people think “natural” means, and most likely there are some flavors made by man-made chemicals. You can read a little more about “Natural” flavors in my Diet Coke post.

Salt. Each serving of candy corn (20 pieces) has somewhere between 70 and 135 grams of salt. Not sure how many of these things people can stomach. Do you eat more than 20 of these sugary wax candies at a time?

Artificial Colors, (FDC Yellow 6 Lake, Red #40, Red 40 Lake, Yellow #5, Yellow #6, Blue 1 Lake, Blue #1, Yellow 5 Lake) – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we shouldn’t have to have science degrees to understand the ingredients in our food.

Why do artificial food colors have numbers? The FDA gives these numbers to synthetic food dyes that to not occur naturally. If I could understand “Lakes” I would explain them to you. Instead, I’m going to send you to Wiki to read the page about Food Coloring. If you figure it out, please leave a comment. You’ll be the smartest person I know.

FDC Yellow #6 Lake and Yellow #6. “A synthetic yellow azo dye, manufactured from aromatic hydrocarbons from petroleum. Although there are reports that it can induce an allergic reaction, this is not confirmed by scientific research.” (From Wikipedia) It also might be linked to hyperactivity in young children.

Red #40 and Red #40 Lake. In Europe, these colors are not recommended for children and they are banned in 5 European countries. This is also one of the colorants that is suspected to increase hyperactivity or restlessness in small children. It was originally manufactured from coal tar but is now mostly made from petroleum.

Yellow #5 and Yellow #5 Lake. A synthetic lemon yellow azo dye. This colorant is the most widely used across the world and appears to cause the most allergic and intolerance reactions of all the azo dyes, particularly among asthmatics and those with an aspirin intolerance. You can read more about the allergic reactions here.

Blue #1 and Blue #1 Lake. A synthetic dye produced using aromatic hydrocarbons from petroleum. According to its very own Wiki page, “The dye is poorly absorbed from the gastro-intestinal tract and 95% of the ingested dye can be found in the feces.” Gross. This is another one that can affect people with asthma. Here is more information on this colorant.

Egg Whites. This ingredient seems somewhat harmless. The egg whites are most likely dried, so I don’t know what that process is like, but in Candy Corn, these are the least of our worries!

Honey Glycerin. Most of the information I found about Honey Glycerin is that it’s used in soaps, shampoos, body scrubs. I wasn’t able to find this as an edible ingredient in a quick look on Google. Anybody? Bueller? I think it is a byproduct of honey in some way, but not sure on that.

Mineral Oil. a liquid by-product of the distillation of petroleum to produce gasoline and other petroleum based products from crude oil. Just sounds bad, doesn’t it? Apparently, it’s edible!

Carnauba Tree

Carnauba Wax. A wax of the leaves of the palm, Copernicia prunifera. It is used as a formulation aid, lubricant, release agent, anticaking agent, and surface finishing agent. (Wikipedia)

Dextrose. A form of glucose that occurs in nature. This is another product that can also be produced commercially with, take a guess…yes! Corn!

Are You Still Into Candy Corn?
So if after knowing all of that you still want to eat Candy Corn, you must really love that stuff! You do know if I were Oprah, I’d be sued right now, but since only about 10 people read my blog, that ain’t gonna happen. Though, it would get me a lot of hits!

I am probably never going to eat Candy Corn again because I don’t really like it in the first place. This has kind of put me over that edge. There do seem to be some good Halloween candy alternatives, but you really have to look at the ingredients closely. Good luck!

Don’t forget to check out the What’s In It? Wednesday—Diet Coke post!


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11 Responses to What’s In It? Wednesday—Halloween Edition

  1. Shelley says:

    EWWWWWWWWWWW…. I’ve been waiting for this post and LOVE your What’s in it Wednesday segment! Never a big fan of Candy corn and definitely less of one now! (always tasted kinda plasticy to me… I wonder why!)

  2. As much as I dislike “corn sugar,” the fake dyes scare me. I have seen first hand how they can affect children. I’m glad to see that some European countries have banned some of them. Wish the US would follow suit.

    I’ve never been a fan of these anyway. Just one more reason to not allow my child to eat them.

  3. krismoconnor says:

    Ewwww is right! OK – I’m not a health nut and I’m certainly not a saint – but this is creepy…. You did a lot of work for this – you are a madwoman I can tell – so of course, we are deeply connected in that way.

    I gotta say – I had a hankering the other night and splurged on a PayDay – dang it was good! And now that I look at the nutrition facts, probably not the worst thing.

    But hmmmmmmm – I must check out the ingredients, although I’m guessing that peanuts are number 1 LOL

    Thanks Greta!

  4. krismoconnor says:

    OK – since I know you are DYING to know what’s in a PayDay…


    Yes – Peanuts = #1 ingredient
    But sugar & corn syrup are #2
    No weird colors tho LOL

  5. krismoconnor says:

    And in case you wanted more…. The Eating Rules did a great post today on natural flavors… OK – enuf from me!


  6. omg, I think I found my new favorite blog. This is wonderful! OH and I bought a bag of candy corn earlier in September…there are 3 left in the candy jar and I do NOT think I’ll be eating them. Ick.

  7. Russ says:

    Terrific, important post. I passed it on several times already. I never minded candy corn because, well, I assumed it was nothing but sugar. (Some veggie I am.) But the dyes kind of freak me out. Thanks for your work on this.

  8. Stella says:

    In addition to bringing clarity to the ingredients, as you have described here, I want to add one more ‘icing on the cake’ that might make parents run in the opposite direction with reference to “Natural and Artificial Flavors”. This description has also been a smoke screen for non other than MSG! MSG has many alias’s. Keep that in mind when feeding the kids. Nothing at all redeeming about MSG. http://www.rense.com/general67/msg.htm

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  10. Pingback: What’s In It? Wednesday—Dannon Fat-free Yogurt |

  11. Pingback: » What’s In It? Wednesday—Dannon Fat-free Yogurt Middle-Aged Jock

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