The History of Jelly Beans

Posted by Hugh Nguyen on

Jelly beans are another historical mystery—no one is really sure when or how they were invented. We do know that it has seen many different forms. Turkish delights—made of jelled sugar and rosewater and coated with powdered sugar—are the ancient, famous cousin of jelly beans. They have been enjoyed ever since the times of ancient Rome, and are even mentioned in the Bible! Somewhere along the way, somebody decided to switch the powdered sugar for granulated, and the gumdrop was born. Finally, in the 17th century, the French invented a process called panning. The procedure adds a sugar coating by swishing candies around in a mixture of sugar and syrup. Soon, though, they were using all kinds of centers. Perhaps the tastiest of all are drops of a gooey mixture called slurry: add a coating, and you get a jelly bean!

During World War II, most of America’s chocolate was sent overseas to soldiers. The folks back home turned their attention to other candies, and the flavorful, inexpensive jelly bean quickly became the most popular. President Ronald Reagan loves them so much that he persuaded the Jelly Belly Candy Company to make a blueberry flavor so that he could serve red, white, and blue jelly beans in the oval office. Americans will eat about 15 billion jelly beans this Easter. They’re even so popular that pollsters have figured out jelly bean psychology: boys are more likely to eat a handful at a time while girls like them one by one, and most people eat them in this order: red, purple, green, yellow, and black.


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