When I was growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, jelly beans showed up once a year. I was always certain of finding jelly beans in my Easter basket. And as far as I knew, there were only two kinds of jelly beans – ones made by Brach’s that were always in my Easter basket, and some off-brand that my Aunt had at her house and that I hated. Like many people my favorite color of jelly bean was red, or cherry flavored, and it still is. My second favorite flavor when I was little was the black or licorice flavored jelly beans. I still like the black ones a lot, and since nobody else in my house likes the black ones I get those all to myself!
Today, there are numerous types and brands of jelly beans available to tuck into Easter baskets for a sweet treat. The brand most recognizable today, besides the ever popular Brach’s™ jelly beans is probably Jelly Belly™ jelly beans. In my opinion, Jelly Belly™ jelly beans first gained widespread national recognition when Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980. He was a jelly bean lover and always kept a jar of Jelly Belly™ jelly beans on his desk and on Air Force One for a sweet treat and quick energy boost. He was quick to offer handfuls of his jelly beans to his guests and Cabinet members. I remember watching news stories talking about President Reagan’s jelly beans and what brand they were. Suddenly it seemed everyone was intrigued by these miniature jelly beans in flavors that went beyond the few traditional ones found in most bags of jelly beans.
I first tried Jelly Belly™ jelly beans in the 1980’s and I have to admit I was hooked on them right away. There is a wonderfully intense flavor packed into each one of those little jelly beans. One reason is that I love red jelly beans, and Jelly Belly™ is the only manufacturer I know of that sells red jelly beans in bulk and in individual bags. This means that if I’m in the mood for red jelly beans I can have a whole bag of them!
In our house we have some favorite Jelly Belly™ flavors. We like the root beer, cream soda, cinnamon, buttered popcorn, pina colada, and cherry flavored Jelly Belly™ jelly beans. There are many other flavors too. I think the current official count of flavors is 50. Some of those 50 flavors, such as the jalapeno flavored Jelly Belly™ jelly beans are a little too daring for my taste buds though.
The Bertie Bott's Jelly Bellies™ which are also called the Harry Potter™ jelly beans by many people, offer flavor choices such as earwax, dirt, and earthworm. The thought of eating those makes me shudder. If you’re wondering if they really taste the way their names suggest, Jelly Belly™ says on its web site that Bertie Bott’s™ jelly beans are true to their names. If you’re curious about what other people think about them, do an Internet search. You’ll find online postings from people who have tried the Bertie Bott’s Jelly Bellies™. Some people enjoy some of the Bertie Bott’s™ flavors, such as the grass flavored ones. Some of the other flavors, such as the “vomit” ones, were typically described as tasting “nasty.”
Jelly Belly™ isn’t the only brand or kind of jelly bean available. There are numerous kinds. Brach’s™ is probably the brand most often seen on the store shelves at Easter (and throughout the entire year in the candy aisle of many stores). Brach’s™ candy company also makes yummy jelly beans that taste like some of the flavors of Smucker’s™ jam.
In addition, there are jelly beans that taste like Starburst™ candy along with spiced jelly beans, mini jelly beans, speckled jelly beans and some very good tasting sugar free jelly beans. One other thing to note: if you’re searching for jelly beans and you see pectin jelly beans, that’s just another term for the normal jelly beans you see on store shelves.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that each manufacturer makes each color the same flavor. You many love the taste of the purple jelly beans (grape flavored) made by Brach’s and may think the purple jelly beans by Gimbals™ are grape flavored too but they’re not, they have a boysenberry flavor.
Jelly beans are often found in cute gift containers at Easter time and can even be found tucked inside hollow chocolate Easter eggs. And jelly beans are a popular item to tuck in plastic eggs for Easter egg hunts.
The most popular place to put jelly beans though is still in an Easter basket. After all, what’s an Easter basket without jelly beans in it?