A little Jelly Bean History
It wasn’t until the 1930s that jelly beans became a part of Easter traditions. The egg-like shaped jelly beans became associated with the Easter Bunny, who everyone knows delivers eggs as a symbol of new life during the spring season. At least we think so!
The exact origin of the jelly bean is assumed lost in time, and its history is only partially documented. Most historians believe the jelly center is a descended out of a Mideastern confection known as Turkish Delight, and that it dates back to Biblical times.
The hard shell comes from a process called panning. It is believed this process was started in the 1600’s in France to make Jordan almonds. Over 300 years later, the process is pretty much the same, but now done by machines ( big machines! ). The candy making experts we have come to see on some TV shows work their art by adding the ingredients to create just the right shell. Jelly beans are a staple on any desk and of course Grandma’s end table all during the Easter season.
How are jelly beans made?
Jelly beans take up to 10 days to make – really. And they are classified in two types – the traditional and the gourmet. Gourmet jelly beans tend to be softer and smaller than traditional jelly beans. Traditional beans usually have flavor only in the shell. The gourmet jelly beans are flavored in both the shell and the middle.
The manufacturing process starts with the center of the jelly bean. Sugar, corn syrup and other ingredients are cooked in large boilers and then piped to the starch casting area. During this time, machines coat trays with a layer of cornstarch. Each tray has an impression the size and shape of the center of a jellybean. Mix is squirted onto the trays and dried overnight. Then the cornstarch layer is removed and the middles are put through a moisture steam bath and sprayed with sugar. They are set aside for 24 to 48 hours.
Next, it is on to the panning process. This is when and where the jelly bean takes shape and becomes a bean! The jelly centers are put in a rotating drum called an “engrossing pan.” As many of you have seen on some of the TV “how it’s made” type shows, the center is rotated and sugar is added gradually to build the shell. That does look like a fun job! Color and flavor are added giving each batch its unique hue, look and flavor. Lastly, a confectioner’s glaze gets added and the shiny finish to the jelly bean surface appears. A couple of days of polishing and the beans are ready for packaging and shipping.
Fun facts about jelly beans:
- • National Jelly Bean Day is April 22.
- • U.S. manufacturers produce in excess of 16 billion ( with a B )jelly beans for Easter each year
- • Jelly beans became a regular penny candy in the 1900s and were the first confection to be sold by weight rather than price.
- • Jelly beans were the well publicized favorite of President Ronald Reagan. For his first inauguration, Jelly Belly created a new flavor, Blueberry, and in total about 7,000 pounds of jelly beans were distributed for the event.
- • Jellybean ( aka John Benitez ) was one of the finest music remixers and producers during the post-disco days of the 1980s. He collaborated with many pop stars during the decade, and saw two of his remixes from 1983's hit movie Flashdance soundtrack ( both “Flashdance" and "Maniac") become hits. The receive tons of radio play and sold lots of vinyl.