See kids, this is why you should stay in school. Candy maths.
The answer was 50,712 candy corn pieces – a very specific number that a few of you were very close to with your guesses. See the filling of the case at YouTube.
Three of our winners, who took home 32 GB Voyager flash drives, were kind enough to share with us their methods on how they came up with their final answers.
Timothy Finnegan of Tucson, AZ guessed 51,000 (288 away) and told us his method:
I estimated that a candy corn kernel was about 0.1 in.^3 (~0.25x0.4x1). From that I found that perfectly packed into the volume of the case, you could fit ~51840 if perfectly packed. However, since the candy corn is not perfectly shaped and the case is not perfectly packed, as well as the presence of drive cages etc, that number would be reduced somewhat. Thus I figured I'd round down to the nearest thousand and go with that.
5184/0.1=51840 pieces - 840 for losses to cages and imperfect packing = 51000 pieces
Erin Cleary of Portland, OR came up with 50,840 (128 away) also by using some mathematical reasoning:
I didn't have any candy corn on hand when I worked this out so I had to estimate the size of one kernel from pictures on Jelly Belly's website. It came out to be about 13/16" long, 6/16" wide, and 3.5/16" deep. I calculated the area of the kernel volume as if it were a triangle with a base of 0.082" squared and a height of 13/16". (0.21875 * 0.375) * (13/16) = 0.066625 cubic inches.
The given measurements for the case were 24.00" x 9.00" x 24.00". This came out to be 5,184 cubic inches. I estimated that as much as 1% of the case interior was blocked by drive cages and whatnot, which brought the internal volume down to 5132.16 cubic inches. I divided this by the volume of each kernel to get 77,030 possible kernels. That's assuming an impossible packing efficiency of 100%. I estimated that the actual packing efficiency of candy corn was a little less than that of a standard body-centered cubic lattice, so I figured a packing factor of about 0.66. 77,030 * 0.66 = 50,839.8 => 50,840
Of course, there's always just plain luck. Justin Langness of Long Beach, CA guessed 50,598 (114 away), well, by simply guessing.
Seemed like a good number... not much thought went into it.
Corngratulations to all of our winners and thanks for entering to all those who participated