Jelly beans are a classic candy with a soft, chewy center and a thin candy coating. The flavor possibilities are endless, which has led to the ever growing popularity of this fun, tiny candy.
Jelly beans are thought to be a hybrid of two candies, Turkish delights and Jordan almonds, both of which date back hundreds of years. Turkish delights are a sweet, chewy candy that has a powdery, sugar coating. Jordan almonds are almonds that are simply coated in a crunchy sugar shell. Combine the chewy center of a Turkish delight with the crunchy coating of a Jordan almond and you have what we now know as a jelly bean.
The first known reference to jelly beans was in the late 1800’s when William Schrafft, a Boston confectioner, encouraged Americans to send jelly beans to soldiers fighting in the Civil War. By the early 1900’s, jelly beans were a common penny candy enjoyed by children and adults alike. It wasn’t until the 1930’s that jelly beans became associated with Easter, most likely due to their egg-like shape. Jelly beans remain one of the most common Easter candies today.
Because jelly beans are a candy, it is no surprise that the main ingredients are sugar, corn syrup, and starch. Starch is added to create the gelatinous, chewy texture. The thin, crunchy coating is achieved with a sugaring technique called panning. This process is the same technique used to create the thin candy coating on other confections, like M&Ms.