These salty-sweet popcorn balls will convert candy corn haters into true believers

These easy-to-make treats are the best way to recycle your leftover Halloween candy

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published October 31, 2020 4:55PM (EDT)

Candy Corn Treats (Mary Elizabeth Williams)
Candy Corn Treats (Mary Elizabeth Williams)

I want to live in a nation where, despite our differences, we can find some common ground. I want to round this final corner toward Election Day believing that there at least a few things we can agree on — and I want us all united together under the big tent of candy corn.

Candy corn is one of those foods people have very strong opinions about, and I absolutely love having very strong opinions about foods. Cilantro? Delicious! Pineapple pizza? Approved! Green peppers? Disgusting! How dare you!

And then there are the seasonal food fights. I find candy canes and jelly beans equally repulsive. I long declared myself firmly anti candy corn until I discovered an upgrade that makes it taste supremely delicious. Join me, candy corn lovers and haters alike, in the safe space of popcorn.

It happened a few years ago. It was early November, and the kids were stuck under the weight of their respective mediocre trick-or-treat hauls. (Side note: People who hand out toothbrushes on Halloween are the real monsters.) In my eagerness to not be wasteful, I Googled around for a useful repurposing of our least enthusiastically consumed candy — the corn version.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, they secret is popcorn — the salty, buttery, crunchy miracle food known as popcorn. In much the same way that adding bacon or chocolate improves any dish exponentially, popcorn performs the same magic trick here. What you arrive at in almost no time is a fall snack that pairs well with spooky movies and restrained, pandemic-challenged dressing up. You can still see the whimsical candy corn in the finished product, but it tastes like popcorn balls, which makes it actually palatable.

This year, my younger daughter is wearing her Halloween costume to a Zoom get-together. We haven't even bothered to buy a bag of fun-sized candy to hand out to our neighborhood witches and superheroes. But we're going to eat marshmallow-infused snacks and carve a pumpkin. We're going to celebrate as best we can, because there are still some bright orange things every American can on . . .

* * *

Recipe: Candy Corn Popcorn Balls, adapted from Cooking Light

Makes 10  


  • 4 cups of popped popcorn (roughly one mini-bag or half of a full-sized one)
  • 1/2 cup candy corn
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 3/4 cup of marshmallows or mini marshmallows
  • Neutral cooking oil


  1. Lightly oil a cookie sheet.
  2. Over medium heat, melt the butter in a large, heavy saucepan.
  3. Gently stir in marshmallows until just melted.
  4. Pour in the popcorn, and stir until well combined.
  5. Add candy corn, and stir again to combine. (This keeps the candy corn from melting too much.)
  6. Rub oil on your hands to coat. Then, form popcorn balls by rolling the mixture between your hands. You should yield about 10.
  7. Enjoy immediately. Store leftovers at room temperature up to three days.

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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Candy Candy Corn Food Halloween Holidays Popcorn Recipe