Jelly Beans: The Truth Behind the Legend
May 15, 2012Irvington High School
By Mahalia Hooker
They were Ronald Reagan's favorite snack and won the tastebuds of millions of others! Jelly beans are known by some to be the best snack ever made. However, who made this snack? How do they become multicolored, and what gives them their chewy goodness?
According to How It’s Made, no one is sure when the Jelly Bean was invented, but they date back to Biblical days in which a similar snack called “Turkish Delight” consisted of the jelly bean’s chewy center. Many centuries later, the outer-shell was added, making it the successful, delightful snack we know today.
The start of this process is the heating of liquid sugar in an enormous pot-like container at over 175 degrees celsius. Glucose is added to this liquid sugar. Now many ask, what is the difference between glucose and liquid sugar? Well, glucose is a “more concentrated sugar,” according to How It’s Made.
After the glucose, starch is added. Then, a mixer stirs the different components together. While this happens, more starch is poured from a container into large trays. What is this starch used for you may ask? Well, after the starch is leveled out of the trays, the extra starch is brushed off and then, “a molding board presses into the starch.”
This molding board makes jelly bean impressions on each tray. This tray is so large that it allows over 763 impression per board! These impressions are actually the outside of chewy goodness in the jelly beans.
Now, the mixture of starch, glucose and liquid sugar is squirted into the impressions for the jelly beans. However, it does not end just yet!
Next, the jelly bean centers, along with its mold, go to the “dryer room,” where the center becomes chewier by staying there for one day and solidifying them.
After these candies are dried, they are dumped into a drum that separates them and the trays are refilled with starch to start the process again.
The separated jelly beans now go through a “steam vent to dampen the jelly beans,” according to How It’s Made.
Because the jelly beans are now dampened, they can be sugar-coated by spraying sugar over the molded jelly bean while food coloring is added to the liquid sugar.
After mixed, this new ingredient, called “Engrossing Syrup,” is added to the jelly beans, which are now turning in a new tiled spinning pan where some flavoring for the jelly beans is being added. These jelly beans then become blue, green, red, whatever, and have sugar dumped over them. This process is repeated four times which builds up a second coating for the jelly beans, allowing them to become thicker.
After a day or so, the beans become hard and a hot syrup is added to the beans, which polishes the jelly beans.
Finally, a bit of wax is added into the pan in order to give the jelly beans their shiny, smooth coat.
Lastly, the jelly beans air dry for several days and are distributed into a packaging system allowing the different jelly bean colors to mix together to package a variety of beans per bag.
It is strange we never really think about how things we love to eat have evolved. The vaunted Jelly Bean has come a long way from basic beans to the many different flavored jelly bean that gives delight to children, grown-ups and dentists alike. Nothing, though, can top the fascinating story of the Jelly Bean or answer the question: Where might they go next?