Do you like beans? You’re probably saying, “That depends upon what kind of beans you’re talking about!” Green beans? Black beans? Pinto beans? Lima beans? There are many kinds of beans out there.
We bet there’s one kind of bean that almost all of you like, though. It’s hard on the outside and soft on the inside. And they’re usually really sweet and tasty. What are we talking about? Jelly beans, of course!
Jelly beans are a popular type of candy. They’re shaped like a bean with a solid outer shell and a soft interior. They also come in a rainbow of colors and a wide variety of flavors. Their main ingredient is sugar, but there are other ingredients that give them their unique shape and texture.
To make jelly beans, manufacturers heat liquid sugar to about 350 °F. They then mix in starch and glucose. The combined mixture is then poured into starch molds shaped like beans. They let the mixture dry in the molds for a day to give them their unique chewy texture.
After they’re removed from the molds, the jelly beans are steamed and coated with more liquid sugar and then placed into a spinning machine. As the jelly beans are spun constantly, artificial colors and flavors are added to give them their final coloring and taste.
Toward the end of the process, grains of sugar are added to the spinning machine about four times. It is this granular sugar that gives the jelly beans their hard outer shell. Finally, hot syrup and wax are added to the spinning machine at the very end to give the jelly beans their final polished, glossy look.
Once they’re finished, the jelly beans are dried and packaged. Sometimes jelly beans are packaged and sold in individual flavors. Much of the time, though, they are sold in packages of mixed flavors to give jelly bean fans a wide variety of flavors.
The history of jelly beans is a bit unclear. Some people believe their chewy insides were inspired by Turkish delight, a Middle Eastern treat made of jelly and covered in powdered sugar. Jelly beans may have made their first appearance in the United States in 1861, when Boston confectioner William Schrafft encouraged customers to send his jelly beans to soldiers during the Civil War. Historians believe jelly beans first became linked with the Christian holiday of Easter in the 1930s.
Some of the most common jelly bean flavors include cherry, orange, lemon, lime, grape, licorice, lemonade and strawberry. Many gourmet flavors are available from specialty manufacturers, too. Examples of gourmet flavors include raspberry, coconut and popcorn.