Jelly beans are are one of my favorite candies to eat. The chewy jelly center and the sugary shell just can't be beat! From the Brach's jelly eggs we used to get in our Easter baskets as kids, all the way up to gourmet jelly beans, I love them all. These days the amount of flavors available are simply staggering. Flavors ranging from black licorice, to juicy pear, and even rotten egg flavored jelly beans, I am sure there is a bean out there to satisfy any palate.
The History of Jelly Beans
Although nobody can pinpoint the exact time jelly beans were invented, it is believed they got their origin from an early candy know as Turkish Delight. You know, the stuff Edmond was eating in "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe". Turkish delight has a gummy center with an outer candy coating much like the modern jelly bean. It is also believed that jelly beans became a staple candy when William Schraft sent jelly beans to the Union Soldiers way back in the 1800s. This was also the first recorded advertisement of jelly beans. But it wasn't until the 1930s that jelly beans really took off. For whatever reason, this is when the jelly bean became associated with Easter due to their egg shape. Today, billions of jelly beans are produced and consumed each year. Thanks goes out to candyfavorites.com for the history of jelly beans.
Brach's Jelly Beans
Brach's jelly beans are probably the ones most of us are familiar with. They come in both a "classical" package or a "spiced" package. The classical lineup of Brach's has not changed very much of the years. I remember getting the same colors back then as they have now. Orange, yellow, white, green, red, purple, pink, and the unmistakable black licorice jelly bean. Oddly enough, the black jelly bean is the only one that had a distinguishable flavor too it. The rest of them, in my opinion, taste nothing like the flavor names associated with them. The spiced jelly bean assortment on the other hand does have some flavor to them. Some pretty strong flavor indeed. I was never a huge fan of the spiced jelly beans. In fact, mixing the spiced assortment with the classic assortment has the same affect of Harry Potter Jelly Beans. you get good flavors mixed with nasty ones.
Gourmet Jelly Beans
Gourmet jelly beans can attribute their success to the one and only Jelly Belly Company. You could even give Ronald Regan some credit for their popularity as well. According to Jelly Belly's website, their gourmet jelly beans really took off when Ronald Regan would keep a jar of the candies on his desk which in turn was aired on national television. They even created a new flavor, blueberry, so that he cold have a red, white, and blue assortment for the Oval Office. Gourmet jelly beans are beans that have more of a robust flavor selection than your traditional jelly bean. Flavors like root beer, cotton candy, peach, and tangerine just to name a few. There are a few companies around that make them, but this niche is dominated by Jelly Belly.
To cash in on the gourmet jelly bean craze, there have been a lot of companies in the candy industry branching out into the jelly bean arena as well. while these beans are not gourmet style, there are some that are extremely tasty. There are now Starburst and Jolly Rancher brand jelly beans just to name a couple. The Starburst ones are fantastic and while they do not have the amount of flavors available as Jelly Belly, they make a great substitution for the traditional Brach's jelly beans for Easter.