Jelly Beans: What Kind Is Your Favorite?

Don’t you love those little nuggets of jelly bean sweetness that come in multitudes of colors and flavors and get stuck in your teeth?

Their gummy insides probably stretch back centuries ago from the treat, Turkish Delight.  Their outsides are just like the colored hard candy coating, developed in the late 17th century, for the Jordan almond.

The modern jelly bean became popular during the American Civil War when Boston’s William Schraft encouraged sending candy to Union soldiers.  Jellybeans were the first bulk candy and they became one of the staples of penny candy that was sold by weight in the early 1900s. Because of their egg shape, which can be taken as representing fertility and birth, they became popular as Easter candy around 1930.

Standard jelly beans come in fruit flavors but there are now a huge number of flavors — some goofy, some sophisticated — like spiced, mint, gourmet, tropical, popcorn, bubble gum, pepper, and cola.  They also come in a sugar free version (seems weird, but true – don’t you wonder how many chemicals are in those). Whatever your flavor preference, Americans eat a whole lot of them – around 16 billion at Easter enough to circle the globe nearly three times if all of the Easter jellybeans were lined up end to end.

How Do You Eat Them And What’s Your Flavor?

My preference (and my downfall) is to gobble up small handfuls (mostly reds and pinks) at a time — one reason I can’t have them in the house. How do stack up against these stats?

  • 70% of kids aged 6–11 say they prefer to eat Easter jellybeans one at a time
  • 23% say they eat several at once
  • Boys (29%) are more likely to eat a handful than girls (18%)
  • Kids say their favorite Easter jellybean flavors are cherry (20%), strawberry (12%), grape (10%), lime (7%), and blueberry (6%).

What’s In Jelly Beans?

They’re primarily made of sugar and also usually contain gelatin, corn syrup, modified food starch, and less than 0.5% of citric acid, sodium citrate, artificial flavors, confectioners glaze, pectin, carnauba wax, white mineral oil, magnesium hydroxide, and artificial colors (takes some of the fun out of them, doesn’t it).

Even though they may give you Technicolor insides, they are fat free.  On average:

  • 10 small jelly beans (11g) have 41 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, no protein, and 10.3 grams of carbs
  • 10 large jelly beans (1 oz or 28g) have 105 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, no protein, and 26.2g carbs
  • 10 Jelly Bellies have 40 calories, no fat, no protein, and 10g carbs

Some Jelly Belly Jelly Bean Trivia

  • Jelly Bellys were invented in 1976. They were the first jelly beans to be sold in single flavors and to come with a menu of flavor choices.
  • It takes 7 to 21 days to make a single Jelly Belly jelly bean.
  • Very Cherry was the most popular Jelly Belly flavor for two decades until 1998, when Buttered Popcorn took over. Very Cherry moved back into the top spot by only 8 million beans in 2003.
  • Jelly Bellies were the first jelly beans in outer space – they were sent on the 1983 flight of the space shuttle Challenger by President Reagan.


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2 Responses to Jelly Beans: What Kind Is Your Favorite?

  1. Rebecca Livermore March 23, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

    I love jellybeans! I always get the black ones because no one else in my family likes them, but I love them, so that is okay with me!

    • Penny Klatell, PhD, RN, ACC March 27, 2012 at 5:37 am #

      My cousin loved the black ones when we were kids. Could never understand it then — now I sort of like them, too. The red ones are still my favorite!

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