When we learned that Oreo was coming out with a limited edition, only-at-Target candy corn flavor, most of us reacted a little like this:
Not me though. I'm a proud member of the pro-candy corn underground, and even if I accept that the stuff is objectively terrible, I just can't stop eating it.
So candy corn haters, this is not the review for you. Seek out your disaster stories elsewhere. Candy corn fans and candy curious, here's the evaluation you've been waiting for.
First, let's establish what tastes good about candy corn for those of us who like candy corn in the first place. Part of it is the texture, right? The dense chew that's chalky and waxy all at once, that makes your teeth hurt so good. As for the flavor—yes, sweet. Really sweet. But what else is going on there? You can't just say it's corn syrup—corn syrup doesn't taste that way. Candy corn is basically pure sugar, but just like how marshmallows (which are also pure sugar + gelatin) don't only taste like sugar, neither does candy corn.
Part of that is the cocktail of industrial chemicals that sneak in right after the dextrose and before the titanium dioxide. But look up a little on that ingredient list. What do you see? Honey. That's right, candy corn is made with actual honey, and I think it's an essential part of the candy's flavor.
Enter the Candy Corneo
You smell the candy corn before you see it.
Be careful who you open this in front of—it's a chemical weapon. The room will smell of candy corn before you fish the plastic sleeve out of the package. But sniff it side by side with real candy corn and you'll notice the difference. Candy corn has a deeper, more honeyed aroma, and smells (relatively, at least) less objectionably, chemically sweet. A quick look at the ingredient list confirms my suspicion: no honey in sight.
The anatomy of the candy corn Oreo: two golden cookies and one Double Stuf-thick layer of creme that's half orange, half yellow. The golden cookies are just like what you find on plain Golden Oreos, and you probably already have feelings about those one way or the other. Frankly, they taste pretty inessential to the overall package. The creme's the thing here: bright, intensely aromatic, the soul of the Candy Corneo.
So how does it stack up? Candy corn fans, I'm sorry to let you down. But this is not the hybrid cookie you're looking for. The creme manages to taste even more sweet than candy corn, with a powerful artificial frosting vibe. There's no mellow creme depth. No honeyed accents. No real interest—just sweet. Candy corn haters denied that it tasted like candy corn at all. I won't go that far...but this just doesn't quite do it.
The real killer is the texture. Oreo creme is satisfyingly greasy and gritty at the same time. Flavoring that with candy corn stuff is a pretty brilliant idea. But this filling is stiff and gummy, a poor simulacrum of candy corn's unmistakable waxiness. The texture fails us most of all, and with it my dreams of a Candy Corneo we can love.
But is it Awful?
Here's the thing. We've tasted some bloody disgusting Oreo flavors in our time, Oreos that make me shudder just to think about. Compared to those members of the Oreo Hall of Shame, the Candy Corneo is just a wayward Oreo that doesn't quite make the mark. It's not good, but not abjectly terrible.
You have to wonder if there's any way a Candy Corneo could taste good. Frankly, I'm not sure. But I'd prefer a mass market Icarus, one that tries so hard to cookie-fy candy corn that it fails spectacularly, to this close but-not-quite attempt. Nabisco, I hope you try this again with a new formula. You've ignited a spark I didn't know I had within me. Fly farther, cookie company, fly.
About the author: Max Falkowitz is the editor of Serious Eats: New York, and doesn't want to hear about your anti-candy corn prejudice. You can follow his candy corn-free thoughts on Twitter at @maxfalkowitz.