Jellybeans: The History

Posted on by Jack Johnson

When it comes to colorful candies, nothing beats the legend that we call Jellybeans. Jellybeans have been a favorite with endless number of flavors, petite number of calories, two names, and being a vital part of Easter Baskets, holiday gifts and other events for over decades now. 

But what are jellybeans made of? No matter what the name says, jellybeans are not beans nor are they made of jelly. They are primarily made of sugar, corn syrup thickened with starch. This simple base is then colored in a thousand of colors that attract kids and help the beans become the limelight of a gift basket. 

America celebrates the classic candy twice a year on April 22 which is the National Jellybean Day and even on July 31 as Jump for Jellybeans Day. Although not many people know of both these days, but it has never hurt anyone to have something fun to celebrate and these treats have been part of our celebrations for many years.

No one really knows when jellybeans were invented, but the idea has its origin in Turkish Delight. Jellybeans are thought to have found their roots from this Middle Eastern jelly candy covered in powdered sugar or cornstarch has been around since biblical times. While its chewy texture was an inspiration for jellybeans’ filling, their shells were derived from Jordan almonds, which are sugar coated by shaking in a container of syrup: a process invented in France in the 1600s. 

Over time, jellybeans had become more popular than their predecessor but not until 1861, when Boston confectioner William Shraft urged people to send his jellybeans to soldiers in the Union Army during the American Civil War. 

Today, jellybeans are made in more than 100 different flavors. They are gluten-free, dairy-free, fat-free, vegetarian-friendly and certified Kosher and for those with the very common food allergy, they are made in a peanut-free factory thanks to the retirement of the Peanut Butter flavor. According to the company, one ounce (25 pieces) contains about 100 calories, which you can dance off in about 15 minutes.

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