FORT WORTH, Texas March 9, 2018. — Easter is in a few weeks but jelly beans have been on the shelves since around Valentine’s Day. No one knows who the first was to create these tiny capsules of sweetness or exactly from where they originated. But it seems the chewy mid-eastern Turkish Delight and the coating of Jordan Almonds may be part of the jelly bean’s story.
What historians do know is the first mention of the humble jelly bean was by Boston candy maker William Schrafft. He encouraged people to send them to the Union soldiers fighting the Civil War.
Turkish Delight and Royal Almonds
Turkish Delight is a Middle Eastern sweet that dates back to Biblical times. 17th-century French candy makers invented Jordan Almonds for the royal court by tossing almonds with sugar and syrup in a pan to create a hard outer shell.
Candy makers still use this “panning” technique today but use giant rotating drums called “engrossing pans” instead to add flavor and create the candy coat.
Why the bean shape? According to the Jelly Belly European candy makers often made candy into novelty shapes such as vegetables, fruits, and seasonal shapes that people knew.
The site goes on to say,
“The diet of most Americans in the 1800’s was dominated by beans and vegetables from their own fields. Some clever candymaker [sic] figured out how to make a bean-shaped soft jelly.”
Delightful jelly beans
It wasn’t long before these sweet spherules sold in the penny candy bins and jars of general stores everywhere. Jellybeans sold by weight instead of price and were the first candy to do so. By the 1930’s people associated the bean’s egg shape with Easter and Spring.
In the 1940’s most chocolate went to the war effort creating a chocolate shortage in the United States.
Cheaper options like jelly beans filled the void.
In 1965 the Herman Goelitz Candy Company invigorated traditional jelly beans by widening the scope of flavors. We know them today as Jelly Belly.
Their product was a favorite of Governor Ronald Reagan. He munched on them to help him quit smoking. He kept a jar of jelly beans on his desk throughout his presidential administration.
Jelly Bean facts:
• Jelly Belly blueberry flavor bean was made so President Reagan could have a jar of red, white, and blue beans in the Oval Office.
• Blueberry was Reagan’s favorite jelly bean
• U.S. manufacturers produce in excess of 16 billion jelly beans for Easter each year
• National Jelly Bean Day is April 22
With so many flavors to choose from what are the favorite flavors in the United States? Does it change from culture to culture, area to area? CandyStore.com researched and created a definitive national and state-by-state ranking of jelly bean flavors. Clair Robins of CandyStore.com says the site devised the list by using ten years of their sales data and SurveyMonkey and Facebook polls of over 12,000 customers and followers.
The results contain the top 30 jelly bean flavors in the United States.
Jelly beans were the first candy to be sold by weight
But first, there is a new number one flavor this year. Last year, Black Licorice number one in the past but has been unseated.
Top thirty flavors:
1. Buttered Popcorn 16. Peach
2. Black Licorice 17. Coffee
3. Cinnamon 18. Grape
4. Watermelon 19. Lemon
5. Cherry 20. Red Apple
6. Juicy Pear 21. Chocolate
7. Orange 22. Banana
8. Green Apple 23. Lime
9. Toasted Marshmallow 24. Sour Jelly Beans
10. Coconut 25. Tutti Frutti
11. Strawberry 26. Maple
12. Cotton Candy 27. Vanilla
13. Blueberry 28. Cream Soda
14. Bubblegum 29. Raspberry
15. Root Beer 30. Pomegranate
What do you think of the list? Should there be flavors not shown? To see the comprehensive list of the top three favorites of each state visit the Candy Store.
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There you have it everything (almost) you always wanted to know about jelly beans and then some. Just in time for Easter too.