Hundreds of years of history make the jelly bean one intriguing candy. Below is a brief timeline featuring one of America’s favorite confections. Who knows, it may help you win a trivia contest some day.
Origins – As with most popular confections, the origins of the jelly bean are shrouded in mystery. The most common theory is that they’re a mash-up of Turkish delights (chewy and gooey) and Jordan almonds (hard crunchy sugar shell).
1860’s – The first time they’re ever mentioned in history is during the Civil War when Boston confection maker William Schrafft encouraged people to mail them to Union soldiers. Soon after that Gustav Goelitz begins his own candy company, which will eventually become the Jelly Belly brand.
1930’s – Around this time is when jelly beans began being associated with Easter and spring time, most likely because of their egg-like shape.
1940’s – The candy really hit major popularity though during WWII because most of America’s chocolate was sent overseas to soldiers. This left cheaper options, like jelly beans, to fill in the gap.
1960’s – Jelly beans really made it into the limelight in when then-Governor Ronald Reagan revealed that he snacked on the candy to help break his smoking habit. Reagan wrote Jelly Belly, his preferred brand, and told them “We can hardly start a meeting or make a decision without passing the jar of jelly beans.”
1980’s – Jelly Belly went so far as to make blueberry flavored beans especially for Reagan after he became President so he could have a “red, white, and blue” mix for the oval office.
2000’s – The candy even played a part in pop culture through the Harry Potter series and the magical Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans featured in the books. Three years after the first book was published, Jelly Belly began making their version of the candy with wacky flavors like soap, earwax, and sausage.
Haven’t had enough of a sugar fix yet? Try your hand at making your own classic candy, pixie sticks: