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Published:June 16th, 2008 19:29 EST
American Junk Food: Jelly Beans

American Junk Food: Jelly Beans

By Daniel Mabee


Ever find yourself in the mood for strawberry-lime-chocolate-butterscotch? How about cinnamon-sour apple-buttered popcorn? Of course, I know we have all had a hankering for something flavored cola-ginger-tutti frutti. If one of these cravings strikes you soon (or maybe just a hankering for something quick and sweet), I recommend you grab a handful of jelly beans.

In the scheme of things, the jelly bean is a relatively recent design, although it has some ancient ancestors. Turkish Delight, a (shockingly) Turkish candy was first introduced to the world in the 15th century, and shared many characteristics with the modern jelly bean - a hard, sweet shell and a chewy, fruity inside.

The beans were first made using a process known as panning, a technique used to make Jordan Almonds in the 17th century. In short, the small chewy morsels would be dropped into a bowl, or pan, filled with a heated liquid. As the liquid cooled, it would coat the jelly, and voila! Jelly beans.

The first recorded advertisement for "jelly beans" was in 1860s America. A Bostonian by the name of William Schrafft publicly encouraged citizens to send off bulk jelly beans to Union soldiers, and presto! A candy drive, and a candy, was born.

The beans first began gathering real fame around the turn of the century, however, when they were regularly sold in bulk amounts as a penny candy. During the Great Depression, the modern-day connection between the sweet and the holiday of Easter was formed, possibly because of the beans` egg-like shape.

There is little evidence that the many-flavored confection will be falling out of popularity any time soon. With hundreds of flavors available, approximately 14 billion beans were sold last year.

I know it may be difficult to choose between so many flavors, but I assure you, you will rarely be disappointed.

Or, you can just go for juicy pear. It`s the best.

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