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Jelly Belly
August 18, 2010 5:42 AM   Subscribe

Did you ever wonder how they come up with new Jelly Belly™ flavors? Me neither, but this article's actually kind of interesting. Did you know that Blueberry was invented for the 1981 Presidential Inauguration? Some people review the flavors (even the awful ones). Of course, you can mix the flavors (previously) - but some people take it so much further than others. And the inventor's story has been made into a film!

Here's a virtual tour of the plant. It's mesmerizing, but the videos are irritatingly small. You can see some larger photos here.
posted by Joe in Australia (35 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
I love the breakdown of the tasting menu . . . a beautiful deflation of ott fine dining.

For a nice perspective check out the real Filet de Boeuf, godard on Alinea's site:

The service includes antique silver and stemware. We use wagyu tenderloin that is first poached sous vide and then topped with a vegetable matignon. We then wrap it in caul fat and sear it to order.
(garnished with)
10 quenelles made from forcemeat with butter containing chopped mushroom and truffles and moulded with spoons, 4 large oval quenelles decorated with truffle and very red salt ox tongue, 10 small turned mushrooms; 125 g cocks combs 200g nice glazed lambs’ sweetbreads or a veal throat sweetbread glazed and cut into thick slices; 10 truffles trimmed olive shape.


Jelly Bean version; gravy, gravy, gravy, gravy. Nice.
posted by protorp at 6:27 AM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


From the comment section of the article re "the awful ones":

"As for the Vomit flavor,originally that started out as pepperoni pizza, but they could not get it just right so they shelved this. When Harry Potter came along and there was a vomit flavored Bertie Bott bean, they remembered the Pizza flavored one and redid the formula and added a little acidic flavor to it, and now you have Vomit."
posted by applemeat at 6:38 AM on August 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I carry my gaming dice in a Bertie Bott's bag. Instant nerd cred.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:41 AM on August 18, 2010


Protorp: now the kosher market can enjoy the delights of Alinea's pork belly, cucumber, curry, lime: it's 1 Gravy + 1 Bacon + 1/2 Pickle + 1/2 Grass + 1/2 Chili Mango + 1/2 Black Pepper + 1 Sunkist Lime. I don't know if I can get the beans to Australia, but I have a perverse desire to try it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:58 AM on August 18, 2010


Today I learned the blueberry was only invented 30 years ago.
posted by Plutor at 6:58 AM on August 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Are the bacon beans kosher?
posted by empath at 7:10 AM on August 18, 2010


Buttered popcorn Jelly Bellies pulled a crown off my tooth. On my honeymoon. Talk about bad timing. Haven't had a jelly bean since.

That said, this is interesting anyway... fun post.

I'd be interested to know if the meaty flavors are wholly synthetic and hence vegan or if they contain actual meat. The Kosher question is also intriguing.
posted by kinnakeet at 7:32 AM on August 18, 2010


It's so mean the way that licorice Jelly Bellies have a slight purple tinge. Too often I'm tricked into thinking they're going to be a delicious blackberry-like flavor and then my mouth is assaulted with licorice nastiness.
posted by something something at 7:40 AM on August 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I watched the film at HotDocs in Toronto. It's a pretty amazing story. He's basically been written out of the entire history of the company he started.
posted by chunking express at 7:42 AM on August 18, 2010


That virtual tour can't begin to communicate the most memorable aspect of a jelly bean factory: the smell of dozens of chemical approximations of tastes mingled together, faux avocado on fake watermelon on ersatz chocolate, all glued together with the pervasive vegetable tang of corn syrup. I couldn't stand to work in such a place, no matter how many Watermelon beans that let me take home at the end of the day.
posted by Iridic at 7:44 AM on August 18, 2010


I loves me some jelly bellies... But man, you can NOT risk getting a mixed bag... Who knows what crap you'll get.
posted by antifuse at 7:45 AM on August 18, 2010


I went on a tour of the factory for my birthday last year. It was awesome. They have all sorts of insane Jelly Belly portraiture in there (as well as a rather strange Ronald Reagan shrine).
posted by mike_bling at 7:50 AM on August 18, 2010


the smell of dozens of chemical approximations of tastes mingled together

I used to live down the block from the factory that makes Junior Mints (among other things). Walking past every day on the way to work, I could tell from at least a block away when they were making Junior Mints. It was the greatest smell imaginable.

(Also, the very thought of buttered popcorn Jelly Belly beans turns my stomach a little bit. The combination of sweet and faux-oily is really off-putting.)
posted by uncleozzy at 7:50 AM on August 18, 2010


It's so mean the way that licorice Jelly Bellies have a slight purple tinge. Too often I'm tricked into thinking they're going to be a delicious blackberry-like flavor and then my mouth is assaulted with licorice nastiness.

This is the number one reason the only way to get Jelly Bellies is to find a store (usually specialty candy store) that has individual flavors in bins. Then you can get all you want of only the good ones.

You know, now that I think about it, I was a member of the Jelly Belly Taste Bud Club. And that was supposed to be a lifetime membership, but I haven't gotten any shipments in years. I think I need to investigate and write in. I'm owed some Jelly Bellies!
posted by kmz at 7:51 AM on August 18, 2010


It's worth taking the factory tour if you're ever in Fairfield. They sell 5 lb. bags of "Belly Flops" for $2 which are the rejects. Sometimes you can't figure out what was wrong with them, other times you can't figure out why you're still eating them.
posted by togdon at 7:54 AM on August 18, 2010


Be forewarned: I was excited to try the Chili Mango, but disappointed to discover that it tastes like the farts of Satan.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:01 AM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jelly Bellies are pretty cool, but I can't stand to eat candy beans for an extended period of time. Too much sugar. It makes my mouth feel like it's on fire.
posted by codacorolla at 8:03 AM on August 18, 2010


It was the coolest thing in the world to me when I found out that the watermelon Jelly Bellies are green on the outside and red on the inside. So now I'm very patient and gently bite down to crack the outer coating and suck it off, revealing the squishy ruby-red insides, which I store in my cheeks like a chipmunk and eat in a big glob with about four or five other ones. Apparently I just should be eating turkish delight. I do this with almost every flavor of Jelly Belly, but watermelon is the most satisfying. People give me funny looks, but it prolongs my enjoyment!

Also, 1 Dr Pepper JB + 1 Cherry JB = red-flavor movie theater icee stuff.
posted by Mizu at 8:26 AM on August 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


The story of my childhood is the tragic story of Bad Candy-- candy so bad that even a seven-year-old might have second thoughts about putting them in her mouth-- and nothing was as bad as the jelly beans prior to Jelly Bellys.

Picture this: It is Easter morning about an hour after you have discovered your Easter basket in the lamest hiding place your mother could devise (perhaps next to the easy chair in the living room half hidden by grandma's crocheted afghan or tucked behind the half open door to the kitchen.) You have consumed everything edible in the basket (aside from the hard boiled, decorated eggs which will be made up into delightful deviled eggs for your lunch) the chocolate first, followed by the Robin's eggs, the marshmallow Peeps, and finally the strange maple nut egg. The only thing left to satisfy your insatiable sugar tooth is the handful of jellybeans. Do you eat the poisonous black ones first? The bizarrely bland white ones? Or the deadly purple ones that taste like your mother's perfume? No, you prepare yourself for pain and suffering by downing a green one-- gargh. Tastes like sugar and grassy dirt.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:35 AM on August 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


*dons tweed skirt suit with inkstains*

Doesn't the flavor of barf vary depending on the . . . original ingredients?
posted by theredpen at 8:41 AM on August 18, 2010


There are three kinds of people in the world: those who find buttered popcorn Jelly Bellies vile, those who think they're the best flavor ever, and those who know, on some level, that they are vile, yet can't stop eating them and on man I've got such a craving right now...
posted by JoanArkham at 8:48 AM on August 18, 2010


Do you eat the poisonous black ones first? The bizarrely bland white ones? Or the deadly purple ones that taste like your mother's perfume? No, you prepare yourself for pain and suffering by downing a green one-- gargh. Tastes like sugar and grassy dirt.

Holy moly, I haven't thought of those in years. Your description is absolutely spot on- the only ones that tasted like anything recognizable were the yellow ones, powerfully flavored with Lemon Pledge.

When the Easter Baskets came out of storage on Saturday, we'd dig around in the plastic grass and often find ancient jellybeans. Of course we had to dare each other to eat them. Sometimes we'd bite them in half and make Frankenstein jellybeans out of the two most disgusting flavors, and dare each other to eat that.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:19 AM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I was a kid, they had jalapeno-flavored Jelly Bellys. I found one in my assorted-flavors bag and tried it, and blecch it was horrid. Ever since then, I've had a special hatred for the speckled pale green ones.

Years later, I realized that the jalapeno Jelly Bellys were actually dark green. I'd misread the flavor chart, and the disgusting flavor I'd been associating with jalapeno was in fact Juicy Pear. Learning this hasn't made the flavor any better.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:27 AM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is the number one reason the only way to get Jelly Bellies is to find a store (usually specialty candy store) that has individual flavors in bins. Then you can get all you want of only the good ones.

But then you totally miss out on the wonderful random combinations! I grab a handful while driving and don't even look: Orange, Pop corn and Coffee? Cinnamon, Piña Colada, and Marshmallow? It's like playing Russian Roulette with your mouth.
posted by quin at 9:50 AM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Belly Flops" are usually 2-3-4 beans that stuck to each other, so it's like eating SUPER SIZED beans. I love 'em. They carry them at the outlets in Vacaville too.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:38 AM on August 18, 2010


I love Jelly Bellys but holy god, they're so bad for your teeth.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:52 AM on August 18, 2010


Dirt, vomit, earthworm... Why?
posted by Splunge at 10:56 AM on August 18, 2010


It's worth taking the factory tour if you're ever in Fairfield.

My wife took the kids there once. Upon leaving she stated, "Well, we won't be doing that again."
posted by GuyZero at 11:13 AM on August 18, 2010


Also, you can buy Belly Flops by mail for $9 a bag online.
posted by GuyZero at 11:22 AM on August 18, 2010


Dirt, vomit, earthworm... Why?

They were released for the Bertie Bott's Harry Potter beans.
posted by empath at 11:27 AM on August 18, 2010


I understand the Harry Potter connection. The question still stands.
posted by Splunge at 2:02 PM on August 18, 2010


A focus group with the target market, 8-year-olds. Kids lose their shit over the jelly beans with the gross flavours. I have witnessed it firsthand. You thought those girls in the front row at Beatles & Stones concerts were going crazy? They have nothing on a pack of grade-school kids seeing who gets the booger flavoured jelly bean.
posted by GuyZero at 3:15 PM on August 18, 2010


Dirt, vomit, earthworm... Why?

I suppose it's tradition, like licorice. They keep making them, even though most people don't care for them.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:35 PM on August 18, 2010


I missed this before - here's how they describe their own company history. David Klein only gets a mention near the end as an unnamed "candy distributor" with "an idea for a jelly bean made with natural flavorings".
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:49 PM on August 18, 2010


The dramatic climax in the screenplay I envision about the squabbling heirs of a rust-belt candy factory will occur as Kathleen Turner screams herself hoarse: "If you don't like licorice, STFU and don't eat licorice!"
posted by applemeat at 4:27 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


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