Candy corn is a strangely controversial candy. The tri-colored seasonal treat seems anodyne enough, but that doesn’t stop people from scrunching their noses at the stuff—even when it’s homemade or tucked into cookies, cupcakes, or cake.
While it’s not like cilantro, the herb that some people are genetically predisposed to thinking tastes like soap, some folks genuinely hate candy corn. Turns out there may be a scientific reason for that.
Today spoke to food flavor specialist Marie Wright about the polarizing treat and she had a few ideas as to why people don’t appreciate candy corn. The first is psychological and the second is more physiological.
Wright explained that people have strong emotional response to food, particularly those associated with childhood like, say, Halloween candy. She told Today that the way we process smell and store memories and have emotions all happen in the same part of the brain. “In that primitive part of the brain, often there is a strong connection between an event, especially when it’s food, especially childhood,” Wright told Today. That could explain why candy corn can cause a strong emotional response for people, whether they love the stuff or hate it.
The second reason is more about the flavor. Candy corn is extremely sweet with no other flavor to cut down that vanilla-y, marshmallow-y, sugary bite. Wright noted that many other sweet treats have a hint of acid to offset the sweetness. “[T]he acid makes you salivate and makes it more palatable,” Wright said, adding that “the sweet flavor also makes it hard to eat more than a few pieces at a time.”
So we will just have to accept that some folks are never going to like candy corn. Now, Christmas corn, that’s something else entirely.
Where do you stand on this great candy debate?
This story originally appeared on SouthernLiving.com.