Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Sumedhaa from Cypress, Houston, TX. Sumedhaa Wonders, “How are jelly beans made?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Sumedhaa!

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 range of flavors. Their main ingredient is sugar, but there are other ingredients that give them their unique shape and texture.

How are jelly beans made? First, manufacturers heat liquid sugar to about 350 °F. They then mix in starch and glucose. The 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 chewy texture.

After they’re removed from the molds, the jelly beans are steamed and coated with more liquid sugar. Then, they’re placed into a spinning machine. The jelly beans are spun constantly as artificial colors and flavors are added. That’s how they get their final coloring and taste.

Toward the end of the process, grains of sugar are added to the spinning machine about four times. It’s 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. This gives 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. This gives jelly bean fans a wide variety of options.

The history of jelly beans is a bit unclear. Some people believe their chewy insides were inspired by Turkish Delight. This is 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. That’s 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, and lime. Grape, licorice, lemonade, and strawberry are other popular flavors. Many gourmet flavors are also available. Examples include raspberry, coconut, and popcorn. Harry Potter fans can even find Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans in flavors like marshmallow, candyfloss, and rotten egg!

Do you like jelly beans? Or do you reach for a different sugary treat? Either way, jelly beans are one of the most popular candies in the world. The next time you bite through a jelly bean’s hard outer shell, think about all the work that goes into making these sweet snacks!

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1

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Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day takes a closer look at something that affects all of our lives in some way, sooner or later.