With Easter just around the corner, I had to pull out my Jelly Belly’s that I got for a ‘white elephant’ gift at Christmas this year. It was a huge box filled with 75 bags, each bag containing 7 beans. Kelly did the math and told me that was 525 jellybeans! Ok, that’s a lot of beans~ Did you know that According to the National Confectioners Association, over 16 billion jelly beans are made in the U.S. each year for Easter, enough to fill a giant egg measuring 89 feet high and 60 feet wide!
Our family loves to eat these little gooey treats and put them in a bowl on our island. Doesn’t take too long before the hands are in there, grabbing a few as you pass by. What exactly are jellybeans made of? I had to find out…
The Turkish delight, a Turkish dessert, made of soft jelly covered in confectioner’s powder, was an early precursor to the jelly bean and inspired its gummy interior. However, it is generally thought that jelly beans first surfaced in 1861, when Boston confectioner William Schrafft urged people to send his jelly beans to soldiers during the American Civil War.
The basic ingredients of jelly beans include sugar, corn syrup, and pectin or starch. Relatively minor amounts of the emulsifying agent lecithin, anti-foaming agents, an edible wax such as beeswax, salt, and confectioner’s glaze are also included. The ingredients that give each bean its character are also relatively small in proportion and may vary depending on the flavor. Eww…some of these things don’t sound all that good for us.
Most jelly beans are sold as an assortment of around eight different flavors, most of them fruit-based. Assortments of “spiced” jellybeans and gumdrops are also available, which include a similar number of spice and mint flavors. The colors of jelly beans often correspond with a fruit and a “spiced” flavor.
Jelly Bean can also be used in a slang term. In United States slang in the 1910s and early 1920s, a “Jellybean” or “Jelly-Bean” was a young man who dressed stylishly to attract women but had little else to recommend him, similar to the older terms dandy and fop and the slightly later drugstore cowboy. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote a story about such a character, The Jelly-Bean, in 1920.
In the electronics industry, a “jelly bean” component is one which is widely available, used generically in many applications, and has no very unusual characteristics—as though it might be grabbed out of a jar in handfuls when needed, like jelly beans. For example, the 741 might be considered a jelly bean operational amplifier.
Wow, there’s a lot more to the word jellybean. I just know I like the candies. When it comes to the jellybeans, we like the fruit flavored ones best, but other people have their favorites as well. Some premium brands, such as Jelly Belly and The Jelly Bean Factory, are available in many different flavors, including berry, tropical fruit, soft drink, popcorn, licorice, and novelty ranges, in addition to the familiar fruit and spice flavors.
A version of the Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans from the Harry Potter series was made commercially available and included flavors described as earwax, dirt, pepper, and vomit. This is definitely not the jellybeans for me! Gross!
So next time you stop over, grab a handful of these delights and enjoy!