Jelly Beans

Appears in
Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America

By Andrew F. Smith

Published 2004

  • About
Jelly beans are small fruit-flavored candies. Made from sugar, gelatine, coloring and flavoring, and gelatin, the egg-shaped candies are chewy on the inside, with a firm outer shell.
The earliest print reference to jelly beans is dated 1886; it was promoted as a Christmas treat. In those days, jelly beans were commonly sold in bulk from glass jars, or from vending machines that dispensed a handful for a penny. It wasn’t until the 1930s that jelly beans were sold as Easter candy—someone had noted their obvious resemblance to eggs. Today they’re sometimes identified as “jelly bird eggs” at Eastertime.