WILL THE CREATOR OF "NATIONAL JELLY BEAN DAY" PLEASE STAND UP
April 22 is National Jelly Bean Day, a fun celebration created to honor that bean-shaped candy treat with a thick gel interior, whose origins are as illusive and mysterious as the person who created the national day. [I couldn’t find anything about the originator]
BIRTH OF THE JELLY BEAN
As nearly everyone in America knows, Jelly beans are small candies shaped like beans with a candy shell and a thick gel interior.
Candy experts – yes, candy experts really do exist -- believe the soft center of the jelly bean is the progeny of Turkish Delight or Lokum, a family of candies created in the middle east thousands of years ago. It is concocted of a gel made from starch and sugar and dusted with icing, sugar, copra, or powdered cream of Tartar, to prevent clinging. The Turkish term for the confection, rahat lokum, literally means "throat's ease". Lokum is really yummy and now comes in all sorts of shapes and flavors.
Turkish Delight - Photo Source: Photo licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0
▼ Wikipedia Public domain ▼ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en
The Jelly Bean offspring bears little resemblance to its ancestors and is coated with a firm shell through a process called “panning”. French confectioners in the17th century used this process to make Jordan almonds for the Royal court by rocking the almonds in a pan of sugar and syrup until coated.
There is nothing complicated about the shape. Candy makers in those day shaped many candies into familiar forms, and this one happened to be shaped like a bean.
THE JELLY BEAN GROWS UP
As the candy grew in popularity, its name became a part of American slang. In the early 1900s, “Jellybean” was the slang word meaning “a young man who dressed stylishly but had little else to recommend.” In other words a fop or dandy. The term appeared in both fiction and music. Cover of Sheet Music written by Jimmie Dupre, Sam Rosen,
and Joe Verges (1920) Photo source:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jelly_bean
The jelly beans made by Herman Goelitz Candy Company were popular with President Ronald Reagan. Goeltiz even created a new flavor [blueberry] just for the President, who sent Jelly Bellys into space in the 1983 Challenger Mission as a surprise for the astronauts. As that became known and publicized, sales leaped. Goelitz established a new factory and renamed the company Jelly Belly.
According to Wikipedia, the jelly beans are made from sugar, tapioca or corn syrup, and pectin [a starch from fruit]. There are small amounts of lecithin, an emulsifying agent, anti-foaming agent, carnauba wax or beeswax, salt, and confectioners glaze [an alcohol-based solution of food-grade shellac derived from sticklac, a resin scraped from tree branches left when the small insect Kerria lacca, creates a hard waterproof cocoon.
That last ingredient – characterized by janelangille.com as bug feces -- doesn’t sound too appetizing, but I don’t believe there is any fatality recorded as jelly bean poisoning. Americans have an “attitude” when it comes to eating insects, but many are a good source of protein.
▼Photo by iStock/constantgardener
Photo source:www.rd.com/food/jelly-beans ▼Photo source: www.businessinsider.com/jelly-beans
Next the jelly bean centers go into giant rotating machines. Gradually, sugar, color and flavor are added building up the candy shell. After the confectioner’s glaze is added, the beans are polished, a process which can take up to four days. Fortunately, they are not made one at a time. Jelly Belly, one producer, reports selling over 15 billion a year. Lined up they could circle the earth five times.
If clothes make the man, then flavors make the Jelly Bean.
In 1965 the Herman Goelitz Candy Company [now Jelly Belly] began reenergizing this traditional candy by adding new flavors. By 1976 Jelly Belly produced two varieties of jelly beans – gourmet and traditional.
The gourmet type is smaller and softer, and the flavor is in the center jell as well as the shell coating. The flavors added in 1976 were Very Cherry, Root Beer, Cream Soda, Tangerine, Green Apple, Lemon, Licorice and Grape. Jelly Belly now produced over a hundred different flavors in twenty groupings, most of which contain few of the original flavors plus some odd, or disgusting, ones. For example, The Harry Potter™Bertie Bott's category has the following flavors.
▪Black pepper ▪Booger ▪Candy Floss ▪Dirt
▪Earthworm ▪Ear Wax ▪Grass ▪Vomit
▪Soap ▪Sausage ▪Rotten Eggs
I can’t begin to imagine what the flavors for any of these things could be, except maybe sausage. I’ve never eaten any of the others and don’t intend to. However, I was relieved to find a chart showing that the flavors with the yucky names are the same as those with more appealing ones. i.e. the flavor “spoiled milk” is actually the coconut flavor, “rotten egg” has the same flavor as buttered popcorn, and so on.
The Jelly Belly original flavors category sounds normal and “jelly bean worthy.” However, the staff of PasteMagazine.com takes nothing for granted and did a taste test of their own in 2017 to rate each flavor. Here are the ratings of the ten worst and the ten best flavors per the test. www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/.
●The Worst Ten Flavors (starting with the worst)
▪ Buttered Popcorn - “The absolute worst bean ever inflicted on mankind.”
▪ Carmel Corn
▪ Chocolate Pudding
▪ Tropical Punch
▪ Licorice - “Good, if you like licorice.”
▪ Mixed Berry Smoothie - “We found it to be a big disappointment; tastes like grass.”
▪ Juicy Pear
▪ Island Punch
●The Ten Best Flavors (ending with the highest rated flavor)
▪ Crushed Pineapple
▪ Top Banana
▪ Sunkist® Tangerine
▪ Wild Blackberry
▪ Sizzling Cinnamon
▪ Strawberry Daiquiri
▪. Sunkist® Pink Grapefruit
▪ Piña Colada
Be that as it may, according to the Jelly Belly Company, their most popular flavors are Very Cherry, Buttered Popcorn and Licorice. I usually eat them by the handful, so the less savory flavors are mixed into the overall taste. They’re only 4 calories per bean, after all.
JELLY BEAN ART
Jelly beans and an artist name Kirsten Cumings came together in 2009 when she was named the official Jelly Belly artist. She has been painting in jelly beans ever since and loves it. Together they have crafted some of the most fascinating art I’ve seen in a while.
According to Elizabeth Rayne, writing for SyFy.com, Cumings feels that “painting” in jelly beans is remarkably similar to traditional art in terms of elements such as light, shadow and perspective.” In an interview with CBS she said, “I like making things out of weird stuff."
Photo source: https://www.ripleys.com/weird-news/its-national-jelly-bean-day/
After reading the names of some of the putoffish flavors, that comment surprised me. Yoda - Photo source:
At any rate, whether you eat them or paint with them or do something else, Jelly Beans are an American favorite that’s here to stay.