Candy Corn Math: How Our Winners Won

Earlier this year, we ran a contest where you guys had to submit your best estimate for the number of candy corn inside a Corsair 800D tower case.

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.24*24*9=5184 in^3 .25*.4*1=0.1 in^35184/0.1=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

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • ubernoobie
    Umm, who won the case?
  • logitic
    Damn you math. You have foiled me for the last time!!!!!!!!!
  • Supertrek32
    Corngratulations? Can you get any more corny? =P
  • sunflier
    I would have been closer than any of these had TH staff not snacked on them before it was over.
  • plinkoblinko
    haha, guess ftw!
  • sliem
    Plain lucky guessing all the way.
  • Marcus Yam
    ubernoobieUmm, who won the case?Winners were announced in a previous story:,9222.html
  • juanc
    The real issue is buying a case to know it's real volume. For the candy corn poral space and volume you can fill a kitchen tool that measures water volume and know how much candy corn fits in that volume.

    But without knowing the real volume of the case is hard to estimate.
  • liquidblue
    I still want the candy corn >.
  • ckthecerealkiller
    I used a very similar method to Erin. Only I figured a packing fraction of .68... I did figure the size of the drive cages and just subtracted that from the total volume. Which probably threw me off a bit. I got 50,180. Congrats again!