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Jelly beans!

Why we love them so much

March 31, 2013
By KIM LOCCISANO - Staff Writer ( , Times Leader

There are those who would say the humble jelly bean has no real place in the formal celebrations held during this annual season of rebirth.

Respectfully, they would be wrong.

Jelly beans are tiny bundles of fun able to be enjoyed - hopefully in moderation - by young and old alike when they can be found.

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The late President Ronald Reagan loved jelly beans. In fact, the blueberry flavor was introduced so he could have a visual red, white and blue presence on his desk in the Oval Office.

They will never be mistaken for a dietary staple or a food group, but with the advent of spring and summer fun food fare increasing, these delightful treats will be resupplied at the local grocery in time to be scooped up to colorfully top favorite festive cupcakes, and to be mixed into the batters of cakes and even ice cream concoctions.

They have doubtless been considered an official "dessert" at more than one family gathering, and are a well documented behavior modification reward tool - though they can make such efforts more colorful than originally intended when forgotten in a deep pocket - whether by toddler or adult.

The Ohio Valley's own military grassroots support group known as "Boatsie's Boxes" has likely shipped several hundred thousand bags of jelly beans to our deployed troops in places like Afghanistan, Kuwait and Iraq in what has now become almost a decade-long effort to bring a smile that began at home to our military personnel serving far from home.

A quick trip to Boatsie's Boxes website will give immediate proof of just how vital these tiny bags of treats are to America's military personnel of all ranks and in all services.

It could be argued the seemingly simple jelly bean had, at one point in the not too distant political history of our nation, found a very unique calling and served day in and day out, ever vigilant and ready to be of service as a sort of presidential advisor, and even as a sort of career diplomat.

The late President Ronald Reagan was nuts about the things.

Likely there was not a national crisis or strategy meeting during Reagan's time in office in which these little treats did not have some important role.

In fact, the blueberry flavor was introduced at that point specifically so there could be a visual red, white and blue presence on his desk in the Oval Office.

Having first come to attention in the modern world in the early 1900s, during subsequent times of war and chocolate shortages, jelly beans were called on as a top shelf substitute to help stretch national resources and provide a reward that could better stand up to the heat of battle than was sometimes the case with other candies of the day.

Almost without fail, jelly beans are the type of things which have large fan followings, with nearly every American having unconsciously selected their personal favorite and also their least loved flavors and types of jelly beans.

Jelly beans are generally egg-shaped, thereby meant to be the symbolic acknowledgment of the essence of life itself.

Never thought of those cute sugary goodies as spiritually motivating or uplifting? Think again.

The basis for this argument is simple, and not meant to take anything away from the formal aspects of the various religious celebrations which are the core of this annual season of spiritual awakening and the celebrations of those experiences.

Jelly beans are nothing if not a pure taste of a reason to celebrate life.

While the Turkish are credited with the development of jelly bean candies by most food history experts, the upsurge in its popularity had its greatest push into the commercial spotlight with the immediate successes seen at the introduction of the popular Harry Potter movies and the now iconic "candy cart" and repeat references to the real world products of Jelly Belly.

While some of the flavors offered by Jelly Belly do not come with the most inviting names, each is by design meant to evoke smiles and often some laughter as well.

The popularity of jelly beans is hardly something to be dismissed.

If you want to get a true sense of the popularity of jelly beans in our modern world, plan to join in the celebrations taking shape nationwide on April 22, National Jelly Bean Day.

According to the Candy Favorites website, the original jelly bean is thought to have been a combination of the first jelly candy, the Turkish Delight (which dates back thousands of years), and the hard-candy shell of Jordan Almonds created in the 17th century.

Have an idea for a new flavor jelly bean? Jelly Belly will welcome your ideas.

Oh yes, don't forget to put out a couple extra bowls of these brightly colored treats for the enjoyment of those kids in the family gathering this weekend who are "too old" for Easter baskets.

And as if you didn't need more reasons to love these colorful candies, here are some fun jelly bean recipes:

Jelly Bean Nests

(Original recipe makes 12 nests)


2 cups miniature marshmallows

1/4 cup butter

4 cups chow mein noodles

Directions: Butter a 12 cup muffin tin. Combine marshmallows and butter over medium heat in a saucepan; stir until the butter and marshmallows have melted. Stir in the chow mein noodles, coat well. Butter fingers and press the mixture into the bottom and sides of the prepared muffin tin. Refrigerate until firm.

Jelly Bean Bark

Prep/Total Time: 15 min.

Yield: 64 Servings


1 tablespoon melted butter

1-1/4 pounds white candy coating

2 cups miniature jelly beans

Directions: Line a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. pan with foil. Brush with butter; set aside. In a microwave, melt candy coating; stir until smooth. Spread into prepared pan. Sprinkle with jelly beans. Let stand until set before breaking into pieces. Yield: 2 pounds. (The recipe was originally published as Jelly Bean Bark in Quick Cooking magazine's March/April 2004 issue.)



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