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FOOD HOLIDAY: National Jelly Bean Day

April 22 is National Jelly Bean Day. If you’re craving a sugar fix, Jelly Belly’s jelly beans have just 4 calories apiece.

While there are numerous producers of tasty jelly beans, Jelly Belly, launched in 1976, was the first to sell them in single flavors (as opposed to mixed). The original flavors: Cream Soda, Grape, Green Apple, Lemon, Licorice, Root Beer, Tangerine and Very Cherry (today there are 50 flavors).

The company also invented the “gourmet jelly bean.” The difference: gourmet jelly beans tend to be softer and smaller than traditional jelly beans, and are flavored in both the shell and the middle (traditional jelly beans typically contain flavor only in the shell).

There are pronounced flavor preferences the world over. The number one flavors by region:

  • Americas: Very Cherry*
  • Asia: Lemon Lime
  • Australia: Bubble Gum (what’s up with that, Australia?)
  • Europe: Tutti-Frutti mix
  • Middle East: Berry Blue
  •  
    *In 1998, Buttered Popcorn moved into first place. In 2003 Very Cherry moved back into top position by a mere 8 million beans.

       
    jelly-bean-bark-tasteofhome-230
    Make jelly bean bark with this recipe. Or, use jelly beans to top a cupcake. Photo courtesy Taste Of Home.
     
    You can tour the Jelly Belly factories in Fairfield, California and Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin. The two locations produce 362,880 pounds of jelly beans per day, equivalent to the weight of 24 elephants.

     

    jelly-beans-paper-cup-WS-230
    For the sweet-toothed, jelly beans are made
    mostly from sugar. Photo courtesy Williams-
    Sonoma.
      WHO INVENTED THE JELLY BEAN?

    The modern jelly bean is believed to have been invented in the U.S., sometime after 1850. The earliest recorded advertisement for jelly beans is from Boston confectioner William Schrafft, who may have also been the creator. The ad promoted sending jelly beans to Union Soldiers engaged in the Civil War (1861-1865).

    By the early 1900s, jelly beans had become a staple penny candy. Possibly, they were the first bulk candy. They became part of the Easter tradition in the 1930s, when somebody connected their egg shape with the eggs symbolic of the spiritual rebirth of Easter. Their festive colors made them a perfect celebratory candy.

    During World War II, much of the chocolate produced in the U.S. was sent overseas to soldiers. Americans focused on other sweets; flavorful, colorful jelly beans became popular.

     
    And, if you’re old enough to remember, they were the favorite candy of president Ronald Regan. He persuaded the Jelly Belly company to make a blueberry jelly bean so that he could serve red, white and blue jelly beans in the Oval Office.

    Here’s more on the history of jelly beans.
     
    JELLY BEAN TRIVIA

    Each year, U.S. manufacturers produce more than 16 billion jelly beans for Easter, enough to completely fill a plastic Easter egg 89 feet high and 60 feet wide—about the height of a nine-story office building.

    Christmas is the second largest jelly-bean-eating holiday. Who knew?

      




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