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On Candy Corn Day, star chefs dish on loving (and hating) the treat

Candy corn is certainly polarizing -- most people either love it or hate it. Andrew Zimmern is a fan, calling it the original gangster of candy.

Candy corn is like the candy cane of Halloween: Even if you can’t stand it, a bag of the stuff somehow manages to find its way into your house every year.

Celebrity chefs, it turns out, are just like us when it comes to their love/hate relationship with it. In honor of National Candy Corn Day, we asked them to share their thoughts on the drugstore treat.

Food Network hosts and married couple Pat and Gina Neely are a house divided when it comes to the striped confection. “I don’t like it and never have. It reminds me of the spooky holiday and scary costumes. No ma’am!” Gina told, while husband Pat even gets particular about how he eats them, like those old Reese’s commercials: “Yes Sir! I love candy corn. I always had fun eating them in small bites. The challenge is to bite one color without reaching the next color,” he said.

Stephanie Izard, executive chef at Girl & The Goat in Chicago and 2013 James Beard Best Chef Great Lakes winner, sums up how a lot of us feel about the candy: “It’s a love/hate relationship...I love and gorge on it at the beginning of fall, and then I hate it until next year.” Fellow “Top Chef” alum Dale Talde, chef and partner of Talde, Thistle Hill Tavern and Pork Slope restaurants in Brooklyn, N.Y., is clearly less fond of it. “Where I grew up, it was universally known that candy corn was bad. We all avoided the houses that gave it away as trick-or-treat candy,” he said. “They are just a really sweet candy with not a lot of flavor and a chalky consistency.”

Why candy corn is so loved (but also really hated)

For candy corn haters, Robert Irvine, host of Food Network’s new “Restaurant Express," points out a lesser-known alternative: caramel-flavored candy corn, also made by Brach’s. “The classic is too sweet,” he said. Aarón Sanchez, Food Network star and chef/owner of Kansas City’s Mestizo, goes for a Mexican Halloween treat instead—tamarind candy coated with chili powder—and he isn’t shy about his feelings on candy corn. “Hate. Candy corn has no corn flavor, just corn syrup and sugar, plus it sticks to your teeth.”

But not all chefs hate on the classic. Andrew Zimmern, host of Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods America,” says candy corn is “one of my fave OG [original gangster] candies. Brilliant. Three colors, but all the same flavor. Triply brilliant.”

And fourth-generation New Jersey baker Buddy Valastro, host of TLC’s “Cake Boss,” can’t get enough of it this time of year. “I’m definitely a fan of candy corn—it reminds me of being a kid, and it’s really fun to decorate cakes and cupcakes with,” he said. “It’s a classic fall candy!”