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Making History Monday: Jelly Beans

I'm guessing that everyone knows about former President Reagan's love of Jelly Belly jelly beans. I've always loved his quote, "You can tell a lot about a fella's character by whether he picks out all of one color or just grabs a handful.", to explain why he kept a jar of jelly beans on hand for important meetings. It is hard to know what he meant for sure. I imagine it was something about taking the good with the bad, which happens a lot in politics and a lot in jelly bean eating too. Politics aside, I am glad that an American President enjoyed Jelly Beans as much as I do. As we are approaching Easter, I thought I'd write about jelly bean history this week. I also have quite a few jelly bean reviews ready to go.

As for jelly bean history, there are a few things everyone is sure of. Jelly beans are some sort of variation of Turkish Delight. Turkish Delight originated in Turkey in the 1700s and is a jelly candy with powdered sugar on it. The panning process used on the outside of the jelly bean was developed in the 1600s in France. That panning process was used on almonds, creating the Jordan Almond. Put the two processes together (jelly from Turkish Delight plus panning from Jordan Almonds) and you've made a jelly bean. According to wikipedia, William Schrafft of Boston is credited with this first combination of jelly center and panned exterior that we call the jelly bean. He sold them to soldiers during the U.S. Civil War. The history then skips to 1930 when the jelly bean becomes an Easter candy. Most people feel this is because the jelly bean has an egg-like shape. Between the 1930's to today, jelly beans became one of the most popular candies sold at Easter. One source said 16 million pounds of jelly beans are sold per year during Easter. (This is a condensed history from several sources.)

Despite an unexciting story of origin, the jelly bean is one of my favorite easter candies. Maybe it is appropriate that such a simple candy should have a humble beginning. I couldn't resist buying a lot of new flavors this year. My wife says I shouldn't do 10 straight days of jelly bean reviews, so I'll try to mix a few other reviews in too. I absolutely LOVE jelly beans! I am considering making the photo below the wallpaper for my computer! Check in over the next two weeks to read my reviews of a wide variety of jelly beans.

Jelly Bean Photo from Wikipedia:

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