Although it is hard to pin down the origin of jelly beans, most food historians agree that they have their roots in the Jordan almonds, and the Middle Eastern candy Turkish delight. Its inner chewy texture resembles that of Turkish delight, while its outer shiny sugar coating is similar to Jordan almonds.
Jelly beans are believed to have been around since the 19th century, with its earliest known published mention in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on 2 October 1898, according to Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America. Another claim about how jelly beans became popular was during the Civil War when, in 1861, candy maker William Schrafft urged people to send jelly beans as a treat to the Union troops.
After having survived for 120 years since 1861, the candy company founded by William Schrafft, Schrafft’s Candy Co., eventually closed its doors in 1981. There are, however, other candy companies that continue to make jelly beans. Just Born Quality Confection was founded in 1923 and is one of the largest candy companies in the world. Just Born Jelly Beans is also touted to be the most popular jelly beans in America.
Starburst Jelly Beans, which is manufactured by the candy company The Wrigley Company, was launched in 1995. Its taste is a replica of Starburst candy, which is fruit-flavoured.
Another pioneer in making jelly beans is the Herman Goelitz Candy Company, which is the same company that created Jelly Belly in 1976. Ronald Reagan was one of their jelly beans’ biggest fans and received his monthly supply of Goelitz Mini Jelly Beans from them. Since his political career in the 1960s as the Governor of California, Ronald Reagan used to chew on the candies to curb his smoking addiction.
During Ronald Reagan’s presidential inauguration in 1981, he received three and a half tons of red, white, and blue Jelly Belly jelly beans from Herman Goelitz Candy Company. They continued to be the president’s faithful supplier of jelly beans throughout his eight years of presidency. Ronald Reagan’s favourite jelly bean was the liquorice-flavoured black one.
Studies have shown that red and pink candies are everyone’s favourite, including jelly beans. According to psychologist Charles Spence from the University of Oxford, “this is most likely due to the way food colour affects our sense of taste.” Foods that are red in colour are believed to give us a sweeter experience of up to 20%.
In the world of Harry Potter, however, the colour of the jelly bean offers little help when it comes to predicting the taste of the candy. Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Jelly Beans has more than just the ordinary flavoured ones such as chocolate, peppermint, and marmalade. By accident, or should we say, by a stroke of luck, Bertie Bott the wizarding confectioner invented a jelly bean that tasted like a dirty sock. The enterprising wizard immediately recognised a sales potential in this mistake by creating more jelly beans with unusual flavours, such as liver, rotten egg, vomit, and ear wax. Once, Professor Dumbledore carefully selected a golden-brown coloured jelly bean, thinking he “could be safe with a nice toffee”. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the ear wax-flavoured one. Hence, eating Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Jelly Beans was said to be “a risk with every mouthful”. It became one of the most popular candies amongst the children of Hogwarts.
To call a man a jelly bean is to insult him. Jelly bean has become a pejorative term, referencing to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story, The Jelly Bean. The story’s main character, Jim Powell, is described as a “bred-in-the-bone, dyed-in-the-wool, ninety-nine three-quarters per cent Jelly- bean and he grew lazily all during the Jelly-bean season…”. Jim Powell is an inveterate idler, who spends his time gambling.
Today, Jelly Belly Candy Company, formerly known as Herman Goelitz Candy Company, produced more than 100 flavours of jelly beans, which include their newest, tabasco flavour. It isn’t the weirdest flavour that the company has produced, considering the vomit flavoured jelly bean, which was introduced in 2008.
As its name suggests, it is a type of candy with a shape like a bean. A layer of candy shell coats the soft and chewy interior.
Sugar, tapioca, or corn syrup, and beeswax. Different natural and artificial flavourings are used on the jelly beans, depending on the flavour of each candy. Jelly Belly Candy Company uses food starch for their beans’ chewy and gel-like texture. Other brands like Starburst use gelatin.