Did You Know? It’s National Jelly Bean Day – April 22 Fun Facts

“But for now, it’s jelly beans and ‘Old MacDonald’ that unite us.” ~Robert Fulghum

Jelly beans have two celebration days – April 22 and again on July 24.  Like we need an excuse to eat jelly beans!

The little jelly bean has had a long history and continued to evolve with the times.  Let’s explore some fun facts that you may or may not know. Feel free to munch on your favorite flavor as you read!  Here we go . . .

The Beginning:

  • The jelly bean was created in the United States, but the original inventor is unknown.Just imagine what a missed opportunity to file for a patent on that recipe!
  • Jelly beans are thought to be a combination of two other candy creations: a candy known as Turkish Delight and the shell concept of Jordan Almonds.
  • The first known mention of them was in the 1800s. In 1861 during the Civil War, there was an advertisement circulated about sending jelly beans to Union soldiers.
  • It takes from seven to 21 days to make one jelly bean.
  • Jelly beans were the first candy sold by weight rather than price. Originally, jelly beans were sold by color.

Flavor Facts:

Historically, the most popular flavor has been Very Cherry.  Buttered Popcorn took the top spot for a while, but Very Cherry soon regained the number one slot.

In 1976 eight flavors were introduced — Very Cherry, Root Beer, Cream Soda, Tangerine, Green Apple, Lemon, Licorice, and Grape.

Blueberry flavored jelly beans were created in 1981 for President Ronald Reagan’s Inauguration celebration.  7,000 pounds were ordered and consumed which equates to three tons of jelly beans.

There are 50 official flavors.  There are some quite bizarre flavors offered on occasion, for those brave enough to try them.

Ronald Reagan’s favorite flavor was licorice.  He credits jelly beans with helping him to quit smoking while he was the governor of California.

Consumption Facts:

In an average year, enough jelly beans are eaten to circle the world five times.

The shelf life of jelly beans in from one to two years.

Approximately 16 billion (yes, billion) are made just for Easter.  Originally, jelly beans were marketed for Christmas until someone noticed their similarity to an egg shape.

35 jelly beans equate to 130 calories with 37 grams of sugar.

Jelly beans are considered gluten-free, dairy free, peanut free, and fat-free.

Claim to Fame:

During Ronald Reagan’s presidency, jelly beans were served in the White House and were always along for the ride on Air Force One.  In fact, a specially designed container was developed to avoid ‘spilling the beans’ during turbulence.

Jelly beans joined the space race in 1982; they went up with the Challenger crew.

Art and the Jelly Bean:

At the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California there is a portrait of him made from approximately 10,000 jelly beans.

Check out other artwork from Kristen Cumings on the internet.  She’s re-created masters, such as van Gogh’s Starry Night, and portraits of endangered animals – all from jelly beans.  They’re quite remarkable.

Enjoy your jelly beans on April 22.  Is it possible to just eat them one at a time?  Don’t you enjoy combining flavors to make a different tasting treat?

“You can tell a lot about a fellow’s character by his way of eating jelly beans.” ~Ronald Reagan


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