Jelly Beans

BoomersBy Steve Guss

Have you noticed a dearth of jelly beans this year?

With four days until Easter Sunday you’d think the shelves of your local supermarket or drugstore would be overflowing with the popular candy treat.

Not so!

Churches, businesses, parents, (even the White House) have snapped up much of the available jelly bean supply. Egg rolls are a featured event at this time of year. Youngsters roam around grounds looking for the colorful eggs usually filled with jelly beans. The children get to keep their jelly beans and/or receive a prize for having collected the most treats.

There are approximately 36 flavors in the jelly bean catalog, everything from black licorice to wintergreen. In fact, black licorice jelly beans are among the favorites of both children and adults.

Jelly beans are thought to be a combination of “a. . .soft, chewy Middle Eastern sweet called Turkish Delight that has been around for thousands of years,” according to A Brief History of Jelly Beans.” The crunchy “. . .shell is from Jordan Almonds, a product of the 17th Century.”

Boston candy maker William Schrafft put jelly beans on the map by providing the candy to Union soldiers during the Civil War to “. . .ward off the discomfort of gangrene.”

Jelly beans emerged as an American treat sometime during the 20th Century while being sold with other penny candies. It was during the 1930’s when they became associated with Easter. A singing group known as “The Jelly Beans” had a Top 10 hit in the summer of 1964– “I Wanna Love Him So Bad.” The Beatles were supposedly fond of jelly beans, but after being pelted with them by fans at concerts, George Harrison said. “We don’t like jelly babies.”

President Ronald Reagan loved jelly beans. A pipe smoker, he ate the candy to help him quit the smoking habit. Cabinet meetings always began when Reagan passed around his jelly bean jar.

Let’s hope stores replenish their jelly bean supply soon– National Jelly Bean Day is April 22..