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National Jelly Bean Day (April 22)

Check out the weird holiday National Jelly Bean Day on April 22. Learn the history of jelly beans, and get ideas on how to celebrate them.

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National Jelly Bean Day, celebrated annually on April 22nd, is a delightful occasion for candy enthusiasts and sweet-toothed individuals to indulge in the vibrant world of jelly beans. These tiny, chewy candies have captured the hearts of people around the world with their wide array of flavors, eye-catching colors, and irresistibly sweet taste.

In this article, we will explore the fascinating history of jelly beans, their role in popular culture, the art of jelly bean making, and ways to savor and celebrate these beloved confections.

When is National Jelly Bean Day?

National Jelly Bean Day takes place on April 22nd every year.

Who Invented National Jelly Bean Day?

National Jelly Bean Day, like many unofficial observances and food-themed holidays, does not have a specific inventor or governing body that established it. Instead, it likely originated organically as a way for candy enthusiasts and fans of jelly beans to celebrate and enjoy these sweet treats.

Over time, it gained recognition and popularity through social media, word of mouth, and the collective love for jelly beans. While it’s not an officially recognized national holiday, it’s a fun and delicious observance embraced by individuals who have a fondness for these colorful candies.

Colorfull Jelly Beans (close-up shot) on bright wooden background

The Sweet History of Jelly Beans

Jelly beans may be small in size, but their history is rich and flavorful:

1. Ancient Origins:

  • The concept of a sugar or honey-based confection with a gel-like center dates back to ancient civilizations, including the Egyptians and the Turkish. These early candies were predecessors to the modern jelly bean.

2. Jelly Centers in the 19th Century:

  • The earliest versions of jelly beans in the United States can be traced to the 19th century. These candies were often sold in penny candy stores and had a soft, jelly-like center with a hard candy shell.

3. Jelly Beans and Easter:

  • Jelly beans became closely associated with Easter in the early 20th century. Their egg-like shape made them a popular choice for inclusion in Easter baskets, and they symbolized the arrival of spring.

4. The Jelly Belly Revolution:

  • In the late 1970s, a California-based candy company called Jelly Belly introduced a new era of jelly beans. They created a wide variety of true-to-life flavors, including buttered popcorn, watermelon, and root beer. The introduction of gourmet flavors elevated jelly beans from simple treats to gourmet candies.

Who Invented the Jelly Bean?

Unlike some inventions that can be traced back to a specific inventor and patent, the evolution of jelly beans as a candy is more of a collective development over time, with different candy makers and companies contributing to their growth and popularity.

As a result, there isn’t a singular inventor or patent associated with the creation of jelly beans. Instead, their history is intertwined with the broader history of confectionery and candy-making.

The Jelly Belly jelly bean concept can be attributed to David Klein, a candy inventor, and entrepreneur. Klein, along with his partner, sold the idea to the Herman Goelitz Candy Company (now known as the Jelly Belly Candy Company) in the late 1970s.

What set Jelly Belly apart was its commitment to creating an extensive range of flavors. They didn’t just stick to the traditional fruit flavors; instead, they explored a vast spectrum of tastes. From buttered popcorn and root beer to licorice and toasted marshmallow, Jelly Belly beans aimed to capture the essence of these flavors in each bite.

One of Jelly Belly’s remarkable achievements was its ability to create jelly beans that tasted remarkably like their real-world counterparts. Their flavor scientists and candy makers used natural ingredients and flavorings to craft beans that mimicked the experience of biting into an actual fruit, dessert, or beverage.

Jelly Belly’s gourmet jelly beans quickly gained popularity, and their reputation soared when they received an unexpected endorsement. President Ronald Reagan, a well-known fan of jelly beans, started keeping a jar of Jelly Belly beans on his desk in the Oval Office. The company even created a special blueberry flavor for his presidential inauguration.

Beyond the traditional flavors, Jelly Belly has been known for its creative and novelty flavors. These include unconventional options like grass, dirt, soap, and even flavors inspired by popular culture, such as Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans from the Harry Potter series.

Over the years, Jelly Belly continued to expand its offerings. They introduced themed assortments, such as their BeanBoozled line, which features look-alike beans with both delicious and outrageous flavors, adding an element of surprise to the jelly bean experience.

Jelly Belly’s commitment to quality, innovation, and a diverse flavor palette elevated the humble jelly bean from a simple, nostalgic treat to a gourmet indulgence. Their contribution to the world of candy not only delighted taste buds but also inspired other candy makers to explore new and exciting flavor profiles, ensuring that jelly beans remain a beloved confection enjoyed by people of all ages.

Jelly Beans in Popular Culture

Jelly beans have made their mark in popular culture in various ways:

1. Ronald Reagan’s Love for Jelly Beans:

  • President Ronald Reagan was famously fond of jelly beans. His affection for these candies helped boost their popularity in the United States during his presidency. The Jelly Belly company even created a blueberry flavor specifically for his inauguration.

2. Harry Potter’s Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans:

  • In J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans are a magical variation of jelly beans. They include flavors ranging from ordinary to bizarre, like earwax and grass.

3. Jelly Bean Art:

  • Some artists have taken inspiration from jelly beans to create colorful and playful works of art. These edible candies have been used to craft mosaics and intricate designs.

How Are Jelly Beans Made?

Creating jelly beans is a meticulous process that combines science and art. Here’s a glimpse into how these delectable candies are crafted:

1. Sugar Syrup:

  • The process begins with a sugar syrup made from sugar, corn syrup, and water. This syrup is heated and carefully monitored to achieve the right consistency.

2. Starch Molds:

  • Starch molds with indentations shaped like jelly beans are created. These molds allow the candies to take on their iconic shape.

3. Flavors and Colors:

  • Flavorings and food coloring are added to the sugar syrup to create the desired taste and color for each jelly bean.

4. Starching and Drying:

  • The starch molds are filled with the syrup mixture, and the candies are allowed to cool and set. Once they’ve hardened, they are removed from the molds.

5. Final Coating:

  • The jelly beans are then given a final coating of sugar to create their signature outer shell.

6. Sorting and Packaging:

  • After thorough quality control, the jelly beans are sorted by color and flavor before being packaged for distribution.

Celebrating National Jelly Bean Day

National Jelly Bean Day provides an opportunity to savor the sweetness of these beloved candies in various ways:

1. Taste Testing:

  • Organize a jelly bean taste testing session with friends and family. Blindfold participants and challenge them to guess the flavors.

2. Create Jelly Bean Art:

  • Get creative with jelly beans by making colorful, edible artwork. Craft jelly bean mosaics or use them to decorate cakes and cookies. Or even try painting with jelly beans!

3. Bake with Jelly Beans:

  • Incorporate jelly beans into your baking endeavors. Add them to cupcakes, brownies, or even homemade ice cream for a burst of sweetness.

4. Jelly Bean Cocktails:

  • Adults can enjoy jelly beans in the form of colorful and playful cocktails. Drop a few jelly beans into a glass of champagne or create jelly bean-infused vodka for unique libations.

5. Jelly Bean Jar Guessing Game:

  • Fill a jar with jelly beans and challenge your friends to guess the number of candies inside. The winner gets to keep the jar!

6. Explore Gourmet Jelly Beans:

  • Treat yourself to gourmet jelly beans from brands like Jelly Belly, which offer an extensive range of flavors, including unusual and exotic options.

National Jelly Bean Day is a joyful celebration of a candy that has captured the hearts and taste buds of people worldwide. From its humble beginnings to its evolution into gourmet confections, jelly beans continue to bring delight and color to our lives.

So, whether you’re savoring your favorite flavors, getting creative with jelly bean art, or sharing the joy of these candies with others, April 22nd is the perfect day to celebrate the sweet and colorful world of jelly beans.

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