February 27, 2008

Jelly Belly at the 'Nelly

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I want to start this column with some hard truths. I ate a pound of Jelly Belly brand jelly beans in one day. For the purposes of this column, I purchased two pounds of jelly beans, and because I have no will power to my name and jelly beans can be eaten continuously forever, I ate a pound of jelly beans. Even though I ate a pound yesterday while brainstorming, I’ll continue to eat more while I type away this column, so stay tuned for updates.
Why did I purchase so many Jelly Bellys? Well, the supermarket had gift bowls of jelly beans available for $12, and assorted Jelly Bellys on sale for $6 a pound. I did what any red-blooded American would do: I stole the flavor guide from the expensive jelly beans and filled a plastic bag from the vegetable department with two pounds of jelly beans.
Not that I need any kind of flavor guide. I’ve been chomping down on jelly beans since I first had teeth. I was there when they developed the watermelon flavor (green on the outside, red on the inside), I was there when the Harry Potter Bertie Botts Every Flavor beans were created (more on that later) and yes, I was there for the hour-long cable special that taught me all about how Jelly Bellys are made.
I was thinking about how to organize my review of the 50 + flavors of jelly beans I got (including the all new, ten sour flavors) and during all that thinking, I ate about one fourth pound more of jelly beans. I’m starting to see the effects of my selective diet. Because I rarely eat the flavors I don’t like, my candy bowl is starting to look particularly unappealing. The only beans left are the gross ones. So what are my least favorite flavors? First of all — Island punch. Island punch is the bland purple jelly bean that doesn’t taste like anything. Every fruit under the sun, including two distinct and delicious apple flavors, are represented individually in the jelly bean family. There is no need for a mixed punch, and even if there was … why should it be purple? I never had a purple punch, and if I did, it would taste like grapes. There already is a jelly bean that tastes like grapes, and it’s called grape jelly. (Darker purple, try with peanut butter for a delicious candy sandwich.)
I also don’t care for juicy pear. (That rhymes.) Lots of people say, “Oh, but it tastes exactly like a pear!” I agree, but I counter with “I don’t like pears.” And to be honest, they do taste exactly like a big juicy pear. If you like juicy and you like pears and you like inane campus gossip, you’re going to love this next Juicycampus.com update: Who is the AXO sophomore seen buying a bag of exclusively juicy pear jelly beans at Wegmans?
Before I get to my favorite flavors, let’s take a little trip to the disgusting. Like I mentioned before, I’ve tried the Bott’s Every Flavor beans released to promote Harry Potter. For those who don’t know, the Every Flavor beans are exactly that. In the books they have every flavor and they might taste like delicious raspberries, or they might taste like soap. I thought, I love Harry Potter, I love jelly beans, I’m sure they wouldn’t make soap jelly beans actually taste like soap. But they did. And they made dirt taste like dirt, spinach taste like spinach and grossest of all, the ear wax flavor tasted like ear wax (or so I’m told). My official recommendation: mix these jelly beans into a jar with regular ones and leave them around for people you don’t like.
I’ve started putting the Island Punch Jelly Belly’s to the side in a leftover glass of POM iced tea. I’m not going to waste my time anymore. I want to eat my favorites and my favorites only. Any fan of the column will be able to guess my favorite flavor of bean. No, it’s not cappuccino (close second) or even kiwi or tangerine (tied for “favorite fruit”). No, of course my favorite flavor is buttered popcorn. Because it tastes like butter. And for the fourth (or fifth) time. I eat butter plain. This is my twentieth column.
Now, lots of people have a hard time telling the difference between the flavors. For example: how is one to tell the difference between lemon and lemon drop? Or the difference between red apple and cinnamon? The answer is simple: Sometimes you can’t. Which is what makes jelly beans so great. You think you are going to get a double dose of Very Cherry, and then surprise! You get a Red
Apple / Cinnamon bomb exploding on your taste buds.
A part of me died when I learned how much of taste is dominated by smell and color. A good way to test this is to plug your nose, close your eyes and pick out a jelly bean. Try to guess the flavor. Guess what? You probably can’t. And when you do unplug your nose, you’re going to find that I gave you an ear wax flavored jelly bean. Enjoy!

*Amanda Greenbaum ’10