According to various sources, George Renninger, a candy maker for the Wunderle candy company in Philadelphia, invented candy corn in the 1880s. At the time, a company called the Goelitz Confectionery Company is the one that brought it through the rest of America by the turn of the century. This company was then acquired by the famous Jelly Belly candy company.
Jelly Belly has the longest history in the world of making candy corn. In fact, the company, which is headquartered in Fairfield, California, started making candy corn in 1898.
They took the original recipe from George Renninger and started making the candy. At the time, it was considered revolutionary because it had three separate colors— white, orange, and yellow. In order to make it tricolor, it was a new process to have three separate passes of the steaming fondant, depositing the little bit of candy at the exact rate into the mold every time.
Jelly Belly candy company bought the Goelitz Confectionery Company continuing the tradition. Other companies now make their own version of the candy, but Jelly Belly bought it from the originals.
Now, about 9 billion kernels of candy corn are sold annually. When this originally started, Goelitz made candy into chestnuts, turnips, clover leaves, and many other shapes. So candy shaped like corn had a uniqueness in that you could fit it right in your hands.
Today, October 30, is considered National Candy Corn day.
The tradition of candy corn continues to this day, although I do wonder if people buy it for the taste, the memory, or simply use it as a decoration. I for one, love to use it only as a decoration because it certainly has a rather frustrating taste to it, constantly sticking to my teeth and driving me insane.
Whatever your reason, if you like candy corn, know that you are following a tradition of a century or two.