Skip to main content

Easter’s favorite candy treat: Everything you want to know about jelly beans

Written By | Mar 9, 2018

Jelly beans – a favorite for over 150 years. (Pixabay)

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.

Groovy Candies says it takes ten days to create jelly beans and describes the process on its website.

Candy, Turkish Delight, Jelly Bean

Jelly beans are said to be descended from Turkish Delight and Jordan Almonds. (Pixabay)

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? researched and created a definitive national and state-by-state ranking of jelly bean flavors. Clair Robins of 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.

To email the author go to

There you have it everything (almost) you always wanted to know about jelly beans and then some. Just in time for Easter too.


Read more of Claire’s work at Communities Digital News and Greater Fort Worth Writers Group.  Join her on Twitter and Facebook.

Claire Hickey

Claire Hickey was born the last year of the Baby Boom and spent the first half of childhood in Chicago. She has always loved to write but wanted to create pieces worth reading. Her curiosity and love of research lead her to create her column based on the “garbage in garbage out” theory to provide interesting and thought-provoking pieces that enrich her readers. She also believes life is a banquet and loves to learn new things. Her professional pedigree includes Cosmetology, Surgical Technology, and the Culinary Arts. When not working she loves to spend time with family and friends. She lives in Fort Worth.