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Don’t put all of these chewy, colorful sweets in one basket

The Easter bunny would have a very heavy basket if he filled it with all the brands of jelly beans out there. We tested beans from companies such as Life Savers, Starburst, and Jolly Rancher that tasted like their other-time-of-the-year products, and shockingly bright beans from Crayola – which thankfully didn’t. There were two organic brands in the bunch that won no awards for beauty, but they tasted like real fruit and had no artificial coloring, as did most of the other brands. Our taste test also included jelly beans with added vitamins A, C, and E, and the immediately identifiable Jelly Belly, which comes in unconventional flavors such as coconut, mango, and chocolate pudding.
Eight people tasted 12 brands, and by the end of the session they were ping-ponging off the walls. Jelly beans are loaded with sugar and memories of Easters past, which affected the choices of the tasters – preferences were so personal that there was no clear winner. – DEBRA SAMUELS

Brach’s Classic Jelly Bird Eggs
$2.49 for 19.5 ounces

Big, bright, and traditional. “Yum – not! Taste like colored olives and take too long to chew.” “Hate the way these look! Too big – you can only eat one at a time. Looks like 99 cent candy from 7-Eleven.” “I like these flavors – they feel familiar, traditional.” “Good texture, lasting taste – possibly a little large.” “Tastes sugary rather than fruity.” “Flat, childish taste. Why do the big ones all seem less sophisticated?”

Brach’s Orchard Fruit Jelly Beans
$2.29 for 14 ounces

Made with real fruit juice, so the colors actually taste like cherry, grape, and so on. They contain vitamins A, C, and E. “Looks like they would be more at home in a bead store. Tasty though.” “Strong colors, nice taste, and very candy-flavored.” “Crispy crunch outside, way too gooey inside.” “Each color has different flavor.” “Grape flavor makes you feel bad swallowing it – it tastes like grape gum!”

Confectionery Lane Assorted Jelly Beans
99 cents for 9 ounces

This is your standard 99 cent brand, and people knew it. “Tough, very hard to chew, and flavorless.” “Least favorite, crudest flavors.” “Too hard. Too big. Too gloopy. Too nasty!” “More brilliant color, sugary – cotton candy style.” “Waxy finish, low grade, and each tasted the same across the rainbow.”

Crayola Jelly Beans
$1.49 for 12 ounces

Manufactured by Simply Smart from BlueberryHill, these also contain vitamins A, C and E, as well as real fruit juice. “These are so neon I need sunglasses. You taste the sugar, not the flavor – bad aftertaste.” “Nice assortment of chewy colors. Easy to keep eating. Gentler flavor than the traditional kind.” “Reminds me of Easter when I was a kid – very typical.” “Flavor is very artificial, as is the color.” “Best balance of texture, flavor, and aroma – the best.” “Normal looking. Mushy consistency after initial crunch.

Budget bean.”
Jelly Belly
$1.99 for 5 ounces

Calling itself “the original gourmet jelly bean,” these come in 20 flavors. Most people could identify the beans in one bite. “Almost exotic, super-aesthetic, delicate but strong. My favorite.” “The chocolate pudding was a surprise. Flavors all a tad too exotic.” “Delicate, easy to eat, and modern flavors. Desire to taste each and every one.” “Jelly Belly, right? My favorites but a little tough to chew.” “Cute actual ‘bean’ shape.” “Weak flavor, tastes like gelatin.”

Jolly Rancher Jelly Beans
$2.49 for 14 ounces

If you like Jolly Ranchers, you’ll like these tropical-colored beans. “Smallish, shiny, tropical flavors.” “Glassy, pleasant balance between chews.” “Good size and excellent flavor.” “Great texture; each color is a distinctive flavor.” “There is a weird chemical in this – icky.” “Very candy-ish – but this is too sweet.”

Life Savers Candy Jellybeans
$2.49 for 14 ounces

Life Savers lost the hole and molded its fruity candy into chewy beans. “Like Bubble Yum in a jelly bean.” “Shiny. Back taste evokes herring – worst.” “Favorite in terms of color. Nice and light – sort of transparent.” “Light flavor. Not too harsh.”

Russell Stover Candies Pectin Jelly Beans
$3.49 for 12 ounces

The venerable company includes pectin in its beans. “Glassy. Kerosene flavored.” “Not a fan of fruity flavors, would prefer more cinnamon-y flavors.” “Super duper shiny – too shiny, actually. Surprisingly good flavor, though.” “Subtle flavor – this is a grown-up jelly bean.” “Fragrance is not very good.” “No difference between the colors, strange aftertaste.”

Shaw’s Jelly Beans
$1.50 for 15 ounces

An old-fashioned mix of big beans, with plenty of black and white. The ingredient list includes a roster of artificial colors. “Too big, dull shine, and shocking texture – dough-like.” “Too grainy and gelatinous.” “Strong flavors that corresponded to the color – yellow tasted like lemon.” “I like these flavors – less fruity, more interesting. Marzipan flavored?” “Almond taste . . . a little unusual.” “Not much flavor, chemical lime taste. Red tastes like cough drops.”

Starburst Original Jellybeans
$2.19 for 14 ounces

Another candy company puts its stamp on the jelly bean – literally. Each one says “Starburst.” “These stick to your teeth.” “Better than average bean.” “Sticks to teeth but great size and shine.” “Sort of Life Savers flavors. I don’t like Life Saver flavors.” “Mm, delicious. Sharp, strong, very fruity and distinct.”

Surf Sweets Organic
$1.69 for 2.7 ounces

The most expensive of the lot. We found these organic, vegetarian beans at Whole Foods Market. They also contain Vitamin C. “Wrinkly, unappetizing, and excessively sweet.” “Transparent looking, matte finish. Organic flavor – very tasty.” “Limited flavors, grainy feeling with sugar. Nice appearance.” “Good flavor. Look like gems with dull-ish finish. Itty bitty and cute.” “Kind of perfume-y. Lemon ones are yummy.” “Rather anemic looking with a sugary texture.” “Natural flavor, more subtle. An adult bean – good stuff.”

SunRidge Farms Organic Jolly Beans
$6.99 for 1 pound

Found in the bulk aisle at Whole Foods, these “jolly beans” come in muted colors and juicy flavors. “Nice texture, don’t like the flavors. Too grapefruit-y but nice – if you like grapefruit.” “Pretty colors, but grimy sugary feeling.” “Awkward perfume-y flavor and grainy.” “Great colors, more natural flavor, like juice.” “Uuuu-gly! Barely congealed sugar cubes.”

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One Response to JELLY BEANS

  1. ah lunchboxes… onsicaocally i’ll still take to work, but its not as fancy as yours! Salmon dried fish floss, interesting, wonder if u can find it here in Sydney.

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