Jelly Bean


The jelly bean is a semi-soft candy, shaped like a bean and generally fruit flavored. Long considered a traditional Easter candy, jelly beans are also produced in seasonal colors for other holidays such as Halloween and Independence Day. Basic jelly beans (sometimes also called "pectin beans" because their gel-like centers are flavored with fruit pectin) come in nine colors—red, black, white, green, yellow, brown, orange, pink, and purple. Typically, the bean has the same flavor and color in both the candy center and the sugar shell.

As former President Ronald Reagan's favorite candy, the jelly bean experienced something of a resurgence in the 1980s, and many "designer" or "gourmet" flavors were introduced. These newer incarnations include more exotic fruit flavors like blue-berry, pear, cantaloupe, peach, and watermelon; beverage-based flavors such as root beer, champagne, mai tai, and daiquiri; and dessert or other sweet flavors such as bubble gum, marshmallow, mint, cheesecake, and cinnamon. The names of the flavors vary with the manufacturer, and the processing may be varied as well so that the particular jelly bean flavor resembles its "real world" counterpart. For example, the watermelon-flavored bean has a red candy center and a green hard shell like a real watermelon, and a mixed fruit or "tutti-frutti" bean may have a pink center and a speckled exterior to suggest its mix of flavors.

The exact origins of the jelly bean are not known, but it seems to have appeared around 1900 with other shaped candies. The jelly bean has a longer shelf life than many other confections, and its size and durability make it portable. Like other small treats, it was sold as "penny candy" through the first half of the century, including during the Depression. By segregating beans by color, retailers were able to sell jelly beans for particular holidays. In 1976, the gourmet jelly bean was invented by the Herman Goelitz Candy Co., Inc., and the candy assumed a new life as a delicacy. Jelly beans were a fixture of the Reagan White House, and they have flown on the space shuttle as well. New flavors are developed in keeping with taste trends, so the future of the humble bean in both traditional and new guises seems assured.

Raw Materials

The basic ingredients of jelly beans include sugar, corn syrup, and food starch. Relatively minor amounts of lecithin (an emulsifier), anti-foaming agents, beeswax or carnauba wax, salt, and confectioner's glaze are also added. The ingredients that give each bean its character are also relatively small in proportion and may vary depending on the flavor. These include natural and artificial flavors and colors, and, depending on the bean flavor, may include chocolate, coconut, fruit as puree or juice, peanuts, vanilla, oils, cream, or freeze-dried egg, milk, or fruit powders.


The "design" of the jelly bean was time-honored until the mid-1970s when the gourmet or designer jelly bean was developed. Although the shape remained fairly standard, gourmet-type beans are typically smaller and softer than traditional jelly beans. The colors and flavors also are more

Jelly Bean
varied, and flavors that decrease in popularity are phased out, while new ones are added in keeping with other candies popular with children and other food fads and trends. Intentional in its design or not, the smaller jelly bean is touted as a low-calorie treat because jelly beans contain little or no fat, and there are about 150 calories in 2 tablespoons of small jelly beans.

Also, some manufacturers make a slightly larger jelly bean for holidays like Easter, Halloween, and Christmas. Forming jelly beans and many other candies does require design and development of the molds used in casting the shapes.

The Manufacturing

Cooking and chemistry

Starch casting

The panning process


Quality Control

Jelly beans, like any food product, must meet many regulatory requirements for safety and quality. All ingredients are supplied by vendors and inspected for correct quantities, quality, integrity of packaging, and other criteria. Equipment and materials that contact the food ingredients and product are inspected and cleaned daily or between batches as necessary. Packing materials that contact the jelly beans are formed and handled by machines that are also cleaned daily.

There are a number of product quality assurances among the manufacturing steps, starting with laboratory testing, tasting, observation of color quality, and both machine sorting and inspection to identify and oust imperfect candies.

Factory workers wear special clothing required for food handlers. Because they are working with equipment that generates high heat, has revolving parts, requires electrical supply, and imposes other safety hazards, workers are also protected by a myriad of safety requirements. Some jelly bean factories allow visitors to tour. They are kept at controlled distances from food processing both to protect the visitors and to isolate the candy from possible contamination.


The jelly bean making process generates very little waste. Sometimes the candy centers are malformed, or the molds collapse, forcing several candies to congeal. These are melted and reused or recycled to salvage the sweeteners. Some manufacturers package and sell imperfectly shaped but edible beans selected during final sorting and inspection.

The Future

New developments are most likely to include changing flavors among gourmet beans as the taste of the consumer follows the latest fashion. Other "revolutions" in jelly beans are less likely, and the future of the jelly bean as an icon among candies seems secure.

Where To Learn More

Brach & Brock Confections. 401 N. Cicero Ave., Chicago, IL 60644. (312) 626-1200.

Goelitz Confectionery. PO Box 1050, 1501 Morrow Ave., North Chicago, IL 60064. (708) 689-2225.

Gillian S. Holmes

Also read article about Jelly Bean from Wikipedia

User Contributions:

John Patterson
If any body can suggest some good reputation jelly bean and candy machines OEM (manufacturer) that are reliable, durable, and hygenic; from low, mid, and high-budget all-in-one processing plant.

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