You can tell a lot about a fellow’s character by the way he eats jellybeans, at least according to the widely quoted logic of former USA President Ronald Reagan.
For Reagan the Jellybean was not simply an Easter indulgence. Reagan was so enamored of Jellybeans that he maintained a year-round supply in the Oval Office and a perpetual stash on air force one, displayed in a special turbulence-proof container. He even launched them into space, in 1983, when he ordered that they be stowed as a presidential surprise on the space shuttle challenger for the amusement of the astronauts.
Reagan’s conclusion about the personalities of fellow jellybean aficionados may or may not prove true. Still, it appears obvious that Americans have a considerable collective craving for the clever creation. These days it would hardly be Easter without jellybeans artfully hidden among the paper grass, chocolate rabbits and other goodies that presently complete the Easter Basket equation.
Nevertheless, Jellybeans are no longer just for Easter. They have shed their seasonal specific demand and are on display in stores throughout the year.
The exact origin of the Jellybean is somewhat foggy likely lost to time and a lack of permanent record keeping methods. Most historians, however, agree that in the USA they were first linked with Easter in the 1930s. That is when people began tucking them into Easter baskets likely because of their resemblance to small eggs, according the Jelly Belly Company, the manufacturer of Reagan’s self-professed favorite brand of Jelly bean.
Eggs have long been a symbol of fertility and spring renewal associated with Easter. The Jellybean’s beguiling resemblance to small bird eggs was evident, and that along with their colorful appearance made them a natural addition to Easter festivities.
The American appetite for Jellybeans seems to be ravenous and growing annually. In the USA candy makers manufacture approximately 16 Billion Jellybeans annually in anticipation of Easter. Moreover, in recent years some Grocery stores have doubled the space designated for highlighting Jellybeans near Easter time.
Categorically precise product sales figures are difficult to establish since retailers no longer routinely report checkout scanner information. Nevertheless, based on various data, Easter is second in Holiday candy-eating events with overall sales hovering at a lofty 1.9 billion dollars in 2006, according to the National Confectioners Association, or the NCA. Jellybeans figure prominently in that placement.
During Reagan’s presidential reign more than three tons of Jelly Belly Candy Company beans, were consumed at political events in 1981, possibly due to Reagan’s widely reported fondness for the sugary treat.
Blueberry Jellybeans are a Jelly Belly Company invention developed specifically so that Reagan could serve a patriotic mix of red white and blue jellybeans at his inaugural parties. Reagan’s favorite flavor was licorice and he ordered 7000 pounds for his 1981 inauguration. The CEO of Jelly Belly Company once credited Reagan’s widely publicized passion as responsible for putting their gourmet brand on the map, according to CNN’s American Morning show, aired June 9 2004.
The Turkish Delight, a Middle Eastern candy made of soft jelly, covered in confectioner’s powder, with roots dating to biblical days, inspired the Jellybean’s gummy interior.
When formulating the Jellybean the pioneering twist involved adding various new flavors and covering the jelled center with a semi-hard shell. The method for making the glaze on the outside of the Jellybean, was invented in 17th century France, and is known as panning. It is the same process prior used to make the thin sweet shell surrounding Jordan almonds.
Jellybeans first surfaced in America in 1861 when William Schrafft, a Boston confectioner, urged people to send his Jellybeans to soldiers during the Civil war.
The first recorded advertisement for jellybeans was published in the Chicago Daily News on July 5, 1905. It publicized Bulk Jellybeans sold by volume for nine cents per pound, according to the book, “The Century in Food: America’s Fads and Favorites.”
Jellybeans were initially sold in general stores as penny candy displayed in glass jars, separated by individual flavors, and scooped into paper bags after the patron handpicked their selection. Demand for the candy declined at the turn of the century. Interest in them re-energized during World War II due to a shortage of chocolate. Most chocolate was sent to soldiers overseas prompting the deficit.
For years the reigning traditional jellybean makers such as Brach’s confectioners boasted an appealing but limited range of flavors and colors. In the mid 1970s, however, gourmet jellybeans emerged when the Herman Goelitz Candy Co., Inc., now known as the Jelly Belly Candy Company, made jellybeans that were different in taste and texture.
The company’s trend-setting jellybean transformation involved expanding the flavor options by including unusual flavors such as Watermelon, Pear, or Tutti Fruiti, to name a few. The candy also looked different, a bit more delicate, more colorful and more intensely flavored than traditional beans. In addition, some beans did not have the classic clear chewy center, according to Gray Rollins of the website Your Easter.
The palate pleasing amplification in flavor and choices thrust gourmet Jellybeans to new heights of gastronomic popularity.
Both traditional and gourmet jellybeans can take between 6 and 21 days to make, according to various manufacturers. Differences in recipes give both Gourmet and traditional beans a distinctive taste. Moreover, both styles of beans have a solid share of stubbornly loyal cohorts. The gourmet beans are usually smaller and softer than the traditional candy. In addition, the gourmet beans always have flavors infused into the center jell as well as the exterior shell. In contrast, the traditional Jellybeans typically have flavoring only in the shell, according to the NCA.
The life cycle of a jellybean begins when all the deliciously addictive ingredients needed to form the bean’s sweet chewy interior are boiled, then piped to casting trays to solidify. A few days later, the panning process begins. The beans roll in a drum while sugar is gradually added to build up the shell around the soft center. At this point colors and flavors are also introduced into the mix. Soon after, confectioners glaze gives the shell a shiny appearance. Lastly, the beans get a final polish prior to shipping.
Some innovative gourmet flavors include Cappuccino or Strawberry Cheesecake, as well as unique sport-bean varieties such as Berry Blue, a fusion of natural flavors, electrolytes, and antioxidants, and the Jelly Belly Company’s newest natural flavor, Pomegranate, fortified with vitamin C. These unusual but still somewhat conventional flavors appeal to the sophisticated palates of adults as well as anyone of any age with a demanding sweet tooth.
However, the repertoire of flavors is not constricted to the creatively conventional realm.
Some gourmet manufacturers have veered on a non-conformist path by daring to boldly concoct wildly offbeat flavors with repulsive sounding names such as Vomit, Booger, Earwax and dirt to name a few. These eccentric flavors are more apt to charm an adventurous adolescent or a daredevil child rather than an adult. Indeed the Jelly Belly Company, the maker of the zany but still briskly selling flavors, touts them as “guaranteed to have your lips curl and your eyes watering.”
The flavors available for Gourmet Jellybeans are ever evolving, and continually tested. The process is restrained only by the outer limit of the manufacturer’s imagination and the new arrival’s marketability.
Promising new jellybean versions take root in a chemistry laboratory where test batches of new flavors are conjured, and mulled, based on the results of marketing studies. The batches are then examined by focus groups for taste and visual appeal, before emerging as a new shelf-ready product, according to How Products are Made, a reference book, published by Thomson-Gale.
Indeed American consumers are apparently so charmed by the mouth-watering, teeth-clinging treat that April 22 is designated National Jelly Bean Day, according to the NCA.
Other large companies making Jelly Beans are Hershey, Russell Stover, and Fannie Mae.
To satiate the curiosity of inquiring health-conscious minds, an ounce of regular jellybeans contains approximately 100 calories. The calories are mainly from carbohydrates. Jellybeans contain no fat, no cholesterol, no fiber, and no protein according to the food database at Calorie King’s website.
There are about 26 jellybeans in an ounce, according to Debbie Belt president of the James River Candy Company.
In case you were wondering, 70 percent of children 6 to 11 years claim to prefer eating jellybeans one bean at a time, while 23 percent profess a preference for gobbling them by the handful. Slightly more boys at 29 percent said they prefer wolfing down a handful, while 18 percent of the girls admit to inelegantly eating jellybeans by loading a mouthful, according to Easter candy facts on Pearson education’s “infoplease” website.