13 Flavorful Facts About Jelly Belly To Impress Your Friends

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Jelly beans are simply the best. Only a small handful can pick up your spirits, and a random grab from an assorted blend will send your taste buds soaring.

There's no definitive answer as to where the jelly bean recipe came from, but it's believed to have been derived from a mash-up of Turkish delight candies and Jordan almonds, which makes sense because jelly beans tend to have a crispier exterior and a softer interior.

When it comes to modern-day jelly beans, Jelly Belly is arguably the brand sitting atop the throne of popularity. Impress your friends with random trivia and factoids about the company's long history — it literally spans three centuries from 1869 to the present. Show off your knowledge of some of Jelly Belly's weirdest flavors and some of the non-jelly bean products they've offered over the years. And, if you know someone who's a fan of the brand, Jelly Belly offers easy gift options and collectible tins for the true connoisseur. Home bakers can even craft an elaborate dessert for a special occasion with Jelly Belly jelly beans. We're happy to share all the reasons why anything with the Jelly Belly insignia on it is worth a purchase (or at least a careful perusal).

1. What's in a Jelly Belly jelly bean?

What sets Jelly Belly jelly beans apart from the competition is that traditionally, jelly beans just had a flavored sugary shell without flavor added to the center. Jelly Belly was the first company to double down by adding flavors to both components of the bean — an approach that provides for a number of their signature gourmet blends that can have two flavors in a single bean.

Making Jelly Belly beans is a labor of love that takes between one to two weeks from start to finish. And speaking of time, they have a one-year shelf life, but who can wait a full year to eat a Jelly Belly stash?

The basic ingredients are fairly simple: Sugar and corn syrup give you that sweet hit. Corn starch adds chewiness, and the confectioner's glaze provides the outer shell. If it makes the product better, Jelly Belly likes to incorporate natural flavors in its recipes whenever it can. Each bean contains 4 calories, for those counting.

2. How it all started with Jelly Belly

The roots of Jelly Belly began not with jelly beans, but with candy corn. The then-named Goelitz Confectionary Company, which was founded in 1869 by Gustav Goelitz in Belleville, Illinois, quickly became a successful family business, due largely to its production of candy corn, which it began making in 1898. 

One of Gustav's sons, Herman Goelitz, later moved to the West Coast to start his own candy company, the Herman Goelitz Candy Company. It was this separate company that moved away from candy corn and began experimenting with other types of candy, including jelly beans. It was in the 1960s when the beans began to grow, with the first Mini Jelly Beans released in 1965. That said, it wasn't until 1976, when a collaborative partner to the Herman Goelitz Candy Company, David Klein, came up with the idea to infuse jelly beans with natural, gourmet flavors, both inside and out. Working with the brand's Mini Jelly Beans, they put the idea into action and released the first Jelly Belly flavors — root beer, green apple, licorice, cream soda, lemon, tangerine, very cherry, and grape. The new approach to jelly beans became an instant hit and the company's popularity (and its new favorite candy) continued to rise. 

In 2001 the Herman Goelitz Candy Company and the still-running Goelitz Confectionary Company decided to rejoin forces, combining under a single name, the Jelly Belly Candy Company. 

3. Best seller Jelly Belly flavors

The initial launch of flavors from Jelly Belly might seem quaint considering all the wacky confections it's released since 1976. The current count of flavors available is over 100.

That said, given the very basic flavor options for jelly beans at the time, the eight original Jelly Belly flavors were a departure from more standard options. Though licorice might have been a familiar option, cream soda and root beer flavors were brand new to the market. And as far as fruit goes, green apple, lemon, and tangerine were also a departure from the norm. All told, the whimsical original eight flavors of Jelly Belly jelly beans could be considered a pretty accurate reflection of the freewheeling, radical spirit of San Francisco in the 1970s, and the madcap direction the brand would take things from there.

One of the original flavors — very cherry — became and remained the top seller until 1998 when the polarizing buttered popcorn bean somehow gave it a run for its money. But, very cherry retook the throne in 2003 and continues to remain at or near the top. Other popular flavors include buttered popcorn, licorice, sizzling cinnamon, and juicy pear. 

4. Novelty Jelly Belly flavors

If there's one thing Jelly Belly does well, it's to push the envelope when it comes to introducing novelty flavors. For instance, the BeanBoozled Fiery Five Challenge is taunting all you spice lovers out there to try the hottest Jelly Belly flavors around. Sure, you might be able to handle sriracha and jalapeño in the introductory rounds, but things start to get heated with cayenne and habañero. And it's only the true heat seekers who can take on the final boss bean — the Carolina Reaper. If someone you know loves setting their mouth on fire, Jelly Belly offers a slew of gift options in all shapes, sizes, and containers so they can see how high they rank on the Scoville scale.

If you're not a heat seeker, but you do like trying new Jelly Bellies, the brand often comes up with novel collaborations and purchasing options. In fact, you can pick up Jelly Belly jelly beans like Krispy Kreme-flavored beans, Fruit Loop-flavored beans, and trend-following "unicorn mixes." 

For athletes finding themselves in need of an energy boost, Jelly Belly has a variety of vitamin, electrolyte, and carbohydrate-infused Sports Beans available in lemon-lime, fruit punch, orange, and strawberry banana smoothie flavors. 

And if the standard Jelly Belly Sport Beans aren't enough to get your motor going, the brand also sells Extreme Sports Beans which contain caffeine. In predictable Jelly Belly fashion, they come in unique flavors like watermelon, pomegranate, and an assortment of smoothies.

5. Discontinued Jelly Belly flavors

Jelly Belly's constant drive to try new flavors means that some of them just don't work out. Many flavors have been discontinued over the years, including caramel apple, grape jelly, peanut butter, papaya, honey, and apricot. 

You can also turn to the Jelly Belly party game, BeanBoozled, to find flavors that are only around for a limited time. In fact, this game gives Jelly Belly the chance to come up with some pretty strange flavors. When you spin the wheel and land on a color, you pick your corresponding bean and discover whether it's a delicious Jelly Belly or a putrid-tasting stand-in. The goal is to fool the rest of the players into thinking you're eating something sweet or foul. You can only snap up each edition for a limited time, and once it's gone, it's gone. At the time of publication, the latest edition's offensive flavors include toothpaste, dirty dishwater, and liver and onions. You might be able to buy older editions on the secondary market. Who knows? Maybe they've aged well.

Jelly Belly also does special, limited-release jelly bean flavors. For instance, once upon a time, the brand offered an enchanted mix of fanciful, sparkly jelly beans that featured a trio of Disney Princesses. Sadly, there's no happy ending here as the line has been discontinued. But, maybe they'll be destined to have a sequel if brought back by popular demand.

6. Jelly Belly during the holidays

While chocolate bunnies and marshmallow peeps are the most popular confections tied to Easter, jelly beans are quite a hit around the holiday as well — the rainbow of vibrant, eye-popping colors serves as a reminder that winter is finally over. To celebrate Easter with Jelly Belly jelly beans, we love this charming spring mix assortment bag that's appropriately shaped like a carrot

And what holiday is more associated with candy than Halloween? Jelly Belly, of course, is going to offer some spooky beans when autumn arrives. Try their Monster Mash blend which offers up the flavors of the season with caramel corn, green apple, wild blackberry, grape soda, and orange — all the flavors and colors you associate with Halloween.

When Christmas rolls around and you're pressed for gift ideas, Jelly Belly has a holiday gift box with a quintet of fun, warm seasonal flavors such as eggnog, candy cane, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and hot chocolate. And for the romantics out there, treat your loved one on Valentine's Day with a bottle of rosé jelly beans — or pop open a bag of champagne Jelly Belly jelly beans on your anniversary.

7. Branding tie-ins

Jelly Belly has shown a clear willingness to team up with other brands to expand its line of unique flavors. It also regularly collaborates with clothing and fashion companies to build even more hype.

With beverages, Jelly Belly has fizzed up their beans with sodas like Dr. Pepper and A&W Root Beer. They've also combined forces with Snapple to create jelly beans made from the best stuff on earth. On the spicy and savory food side of the culinary world, they've partnered up with Tabasco sauce. When it comes to sweets, they rolled out some donut-flavored jelly beans alongside Krispy Kreme as well as ice cream riffs with Coldstone Creamery.

In the cinematic realm, Jelly Belly got on the Hogwarts Express and entered the wizarding world with its line of Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans. Be brave when you try them because they feature fun and unpredictable splits between yummy jelly beans and ones that have been cursed with foul flavors.

Jelly Belly has even gotten into the sneaker game by collaborating with Reebok on a limited line of shoes. And for your next mani-pedi, Jelly Belly is in cahoots with Sally Hansen for some candy-coated nail polish.

8. Are Jelly Belly jelly beans vegan?

It's not easy being vegan, especially when it comes to finding vegan-friendly candy. If there's any question over whether Jelly Belly jelly beans are vegan, they fall under the category of vegetarian, but not vegan.

Gelatin is an animal product that's often a component of soft, chewy candies. Jelly Belly jelly beans entirely steer clear of using gelatin and are also dairy free, which makes them a go-to sweet snack for many vegetarians. But, the Jelly Belly jelly bean recipe does include beeswax and shellac in the coating, which are animal products and prevent them from being considered vegan-friendly.

For other dietary concerns, there are no peanuts in Jelly Belly's jelly beans and they are gluten-free as well. Past that, they're certified OU Kosher. In short, they're a safe bet to serve to just about any crowd ... except for strict vegans. That said, keep a close eye on small children because of the potential choking hazard.

9. Belly flops and other Jelly Belly bargains

Jelly Belly's jelly beans are marketed as being gourmet, which can insinuate it's a pricey product. But there are a few ways to enjoy a hefty cornucopia of candied Jelly Belly flavors without breaking the bank.

As Shakespeare penned for his play Romeo and Juliet, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Similarly, even an imperfect Jelly Belly tastes just as delicious as the originals. Jelly Belly "Belly Flops" are the rejected Jelly Belly jelly beans with a finished product that doesn't quite conform to the brand's high standards. Whatever might have gone haywire at the candy factory that day, we'll never know, but we'll happily take the sale price and give them a good home in our bellies.

For more discount Jelly Belly buys, bookmark its bargain outlet page and check out the wares. What's on offer tends to be out-of-season products. But considering Jelly Belly jelly beans have a one-year shelf life, if you have storage space you can save some money by stocking up ahead of the holiday rush.

And of course, Costco reliably comes through as a hero to give you the ultimate bulk bargain. At the time of publication, you can get a whopping 4=pound blend of 49 Jelly Belly flavors for under $20.

10. Ronald Reagan's obsession with Jelly Belly

It's well documented that a quite famous fan of Jelly Belly was the 40th President of the United States. President Reagan was frequently seen snacking on the brand's jelly beans, even passing them around cabinet meetings.

What drew him to the candy, though? The lore is that his fixation began as a way to overcome a longtime pipe-smoking habit. The Gipper's favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean was noted to be licorice, and considering it's a common flavoring agent in tobacco, perhaps the revelation is no surprise.

Whether you're a fan of the late President, the candy, or both, if you happen to visit the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, seek out the portrait of the man that's made out of 10,000 Jelly Belly jelly beans. You can also take a tour of a retired Air Force One plane where you'll spot a vintage candy dish that undoubtedly was filled with many jelly beans over the years. Exit through the gift shop and buy reproductions of the Air Force One candy dish as well as Jelly Belly-inspired jars, dispensers, and candy machines.

11. Jelly Belly treats beyond the beans

The Jelly Belly Candy Company has long been making an array of different candies. If you're looking for a gift idea for a Jelly Belly fan, maybe consider a bundle of candies they haven't tried before.

While the previously-named Goelitz Candy Company made bank on candy corn for decades, keeping the company afloat during the Depression era, it's not everyone's favorite candy. That said, Jelly Belly still offers candy corn for the fans out there.

Jelly Belly-flavored chewy fish, gummi bears, and gumdrops are all offered by Jelly Belly as well. The factory also creates tasty Jordan almonds, a confection that has a crackling, crunchy exterior and nutty interior that's quite in contrast to the brand's name and most famous product, but delicious all the same.

As far as beverages, you may be surprised to learn the brand offers hot chocolate bombs and a line of sugar-free, zero-calorie sparkling water that sticks to the Jelly Belly brand with fun flavors like orange sherbet.

12. Get festive with Jelly Belly

If there's a festive celebration coming up that has a specific theme, you would be well advised to scan the range of Jelly Belly jelly bean products to add some whimsy to an after-dinner treat. The extensive array of Jelly Belly colors is right up there with Crayola and provides you with a lot of fun ways to amp up a party, whether the beans are served in a candy bowl or they're the finishing touch to a dessert dish.

With a wedding, go all white and glam and serve up a hefty blend of cream soda, vanilla, and coconut beans. For a baby shower, there are maybe too many adorable pastel offerings from Jelly Belly. When it's New Year's Eve, snap up the Cocktail Classics. You can also honor federal holidays with the All-American Mix.

Jelly Belly jelly beans make for excellent cake and cupcake toppers for a special someone's birthday. Consider the honoree's favorite foods and colors, and you can make the dessert treat extra special with a custom assortment and careful decoration of Jelly Belly jelly beans.

13. The Jelly Belly factory tour

The Jelly Belly Factory is where the jelly bean magic is made and it's worth a visit if you're in the area — it's great for candy fans of all ages. It's located in Northern California in Fairfield, which is about midway between Oakland and Sacramento. At the time of publication, factory tours cost $7 for adults and $3 for children. Be advised that silly sailor cap hats with the Jelly Belly logo are required attire on the Jelly Belly factory tour, so be ready to take some fun photos of yourself and your party.

In addition to seeing the process of how the jelly beans are made, you can gawk at impressively ornate jelly bean mosaics made by artist Kristen Cumings in the factory's art gallery. There are beautiful depictions of nature and wildlife in addition to recreations of famous artworks by the likes of Katsushika Hokusai, Monet, and Van Gogh. There are also celebrity portraits of Marilyn Monroe, The Beatles, and Princess Diana.

And, of course, you'll be able to sample Jelly Belly jelly beans during your visit. And you can stock up on the brand's products, both edible and wearable, when you visit the gift shop.