Candy Corn: A Handful of History

Did you know that Chicken Feed was the original name for candy corn. In 1898, the Goelitz Confectionary Company wanted to market the kennel shaped treat that would appeal to rural America. Their clever marketing included a prominent rooster on the candy box to target citizens living farms, about half of America. The unique shape was originally created by hand, but now Jelly Belly has automated the process in true Willy Wonka form. Check out this video to learn more.

The Rhode Island Red was the most popular chicken in the coop. William Tripp (1824 – 1891) developed the bred on his farm in Little Compton around 1854. In 1898, Richard V. Browning, of Natick, Connecticut, exhibited the bred for the first time at the Rhode Island Poultry Association show. His exhibit created quite a stir.

The Richard V. Browning Collection, on loan from Don Nelson, include the original handwritten and typed correspondences from around the nation Mr. Browning received after the show. Chas. O. Flag, Director and Agriculturist, at the land grant school Rhode Island College (now University of Rhode Island) inquired:

“What can you tell me about this bread? How long have you had your stock and what is source? I saw that Mr. Wilbur’s display of eggs were spoken of as laid by the famous “R.I. Red “. Does this breed of foul always lay with a large dark egg as those exhibited by Mr. Wilbur? Are the birds hardy and easily raised, and are the hens good layers?”

Richard V. Browning Collection. Letter from Chas. O. Flagg 24 December 1898 inquiring about the “R.I. Red”.

The Rhode Island Red became a commercial success. It admired for being a productive egg layer of large attractive brown eggs, as well for meat. The bird’s mild demeanor makes it attractive to raised over more aggressive birds.

So next time you grab a handful of candy corn out of the bowl, you can be proud of one of little Rhody’s famous bird. So enjoy a handful of history and Happy Halloween!