31 Days of Junk: Brach’s Mellowcreme Pumpkins (#14)

Last October (2017), I made it a goal to drink 31 different beers—a new one each day—by the end of the month. Incredibly, I was successful in my attempt, which I dubbed #31FallBeers (look it up on any form of social media!) This year, I wanted to try something similar, but there were two important changes I needed to make. Firstly, I wanted to be able to expound more, so I decided against social media blurbs in favor of long-form posts on my site. Second: it needed to be much, much cheaper than drinking 31 different beers. The result? #31DaysOfJunk. Strap in and hold on tight, and please enjoy this month-long odyssey into the sugary, fatty belly of the autumnal beast.

To me, the Mellowcreme® Pumpkin may be the quintessential Halloween candy. I’ll go as far as to say it’s even more iconic than *gasp* candy corn. I’ve always considered candy corn to be a blanket fall confection—covering Halloween and Thanksgiving. But these little stubby pumps, thems all Halloween, baby.

The funny thing is: they taste exactly like candy corn. Perhaps a bit more buttery, but almost no other difference whatsoever. The two candies are made using an identical process, but the pumpkins have the honor of being distinguished as “Mellowcreme”—a term reflecting the candy’s mellow, creamy texture.

I wouldn’t describe these pumpkins (or candy corn for that matter) as mellow or creamy, necessarily. “Breathtakingly sugary” and “I can only eat about 5 before my mouth files a restraining order against me” are descriptors that come to mind before “mellow” or “creamy”.

The Mellowcreme family has extended to two offshoots: the Halloween-specific “Scary Shapes“, and the less creatively-named “Assorted Mix” (not to be confused with the totally different “Autumn Mix“). I’ve found that the flavors of the shapes from those mixes—such as banana and chocolate—actually taste like they’re supposed to. Those chocolate Mellowcremes happen to be some of my favorite fall candies.

These little pumpkins also happen to be hugely important to not only to other Halloween candies but to the holiday itself. Check out this blurb of info from Wikipedia:

As of 1988, most big confectionery companies, including Mars Inc., did not market special Halloween candies. The one exception was Brach’s Confections, which made candy pumpkins among other seasonal products. In 1992, Brach’s Confections expected to sell more than 30 million pounds of mellowcreme candy during the fall season, which included its seasonal mellowcreme pumpkins.

By the late 1990s, competitors of Brach’s realized that the market for the special Halloween candy pumpkin was expanding. For example, in 1997, candy pumpkins and other mellowcreme candies helped push annual spending on Halloween candy in the United States to an estimated $950 million a year. In response, Mars, Inc. came out with Snickers Creme Pumpkin in 1998. Two years later, Frankford Candy & Chocolate Company cross-licensed with ConAgra Foods to produce Peter Pan Peanut Butter Pumpkins. Also in 2000, Zachary Confections expanded its product line to include candy pumpkins.

In addition to helping characterize Halloween, candy pumpkins played a role in the current U.S. implementation of daylight saving time. Since the 1960s, candy makers had wanted to get the trick-or-treat period covered by Daylight Saving, reasoning that if children have an extra hour of daylight, they would collect more candy. During the 1985 U.S Congressional hearings on Daylight Saving, the industry went so far as to put candy pumpkins on the seat of every senator, hoping to win a little favor. In 2005, daylight saving time was extended to the first Sunday in November—just long enough to include Halloween.

How wild is that?! The candy pumpkin inspired other candy companies to start making Halloween-themed treats for October and they were used to sway Members of Congress!

Candy corn, a Halloween treat? Don’t insult the Mellowcreme® Pumpkins.

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