If you’re going to publicly declare your affection for a food that has the odor and texture of a tacky Walmart candle, a decent respect of oneself requires a statement of the causes impelling one to that preference.
Since I was old enough to scowl for family pictures, I fled with my family every few months from the crowded suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia to a mountain house an hour-and-a-half north. The brown carpets held an unrelenting smell of must, a swivelling leather footrest with metal buttons was literally dizzyingly exciting, and outside the windows, if you woke up early enough, you could see the soft ovals pressed in the fallen autumn leaves by sleeping deer.
I survived the grueling (to me) one-mile trails around the house on precisely-timed installments of gummy Life Savers from my grandmother’s pockets, and around Thanksgiving, candy corn regularly and mysteriously appeared in glass bowls on the dining room table.
Oreos grow stale and lose their delicate crumbles. Snickers and Skittles get smashed in the bottom of backpacks and under the floormats of vans. But candy corn remains unchanged. Its strength lies not only in its honey-flavored, waxen nature, impervious to musty mountain house air, but in its ready availability to serve as decoration.
What’s better than a Thanksgiving candle? Edible, fall-colored, sweet treats you can rattle into bowls and gain credit for snack and decoration in one. Plus, there’s no fire hazard.
Candy corn roots us in the traditions of low-maintenance decoration dear to the hearts of all Americans (have you counted how many wooden pallets are transfigured under spray paint and stencils into yard art?), and hearkens back to our Pilgrim forbearers. These lusty folk probably had to eat wax, at some point, and then the Indians helped them grow corn and they had Thanksgiving.
Unfortunately, like the Pilgrims, I was raised in a religious tradition that preferred to set aside a holiday for Martin Luther than for vaguely demonic spirit worship, so my candy consumption was restricted to hiking rations and furtive cabin snacks.
My paganism has waxed strong since leaving my parents’ household for the cornfields of southern Michigan, so this year, in support of my declaration on behalf of candy corn, and with a firm reliance on Walmart’s candy supply, I heartily resolve to stock my cupboards with the infamous tri-colored vegetable imitation and shove handfuls of my waxen bounty into the candy buckets of professors’ children. To this consumption of sugar I pledge a set of plastic vampire teeth, their enamel components, and my sacred sense of fun.