There is only one jelly bean worth eating at Easter or any other time of year.
No, not those weirdly flavored “gourmet” Jelly Bellys (I consider the term “gourmet jelly bean” to be an oxymoron). The traditionalist in me abhors them, despite Reagan’s reported fondness. As for those jelly beans placed on the endless supermarket aisles of Easter treats that tempt us from Valentine’s Day until tomorrow—when the remnants go on sale and those get scarfed up as well—the vast majority should not be consumed by anyone above the age of four. Maybe not even by anyone below the age of four.
What should? I submit these, which are a tad more expensive but probably will not break the bank:
Traditionally fruit-flavored, made with smooth and succulent pectin, with a lovely and slightly translucent sheen, they go down easy. Maybe too easy; it is possible to eat quite a few before realizing what’s happening. Take it from one who knows.
How did jelly beans come to be associated with Easter? It seems a no-brainer because of their egglike shape, but apparently the tradition didn’t really get going until the 1930s. Jelly beans are far older than that, however, making their debut as the confection promoted by Schrafft of Boston for sending to Union soldiers during the Civil War (a crafty man, that Schrafft).
A little-known jelly bean fact (at least to me) is that, “in United States slang in the 1910s and early 1920s a ‘Jelly bean’ or ‘Jellybean’ was a young man who made great efforts to dress very stylishly, presumably to attract women, but had little else to recommend him…The word was also used as a synonym for pimp.”
Returning to the actual candy, I offer a caveat: there is hardly anything worse than the shock of thinking you’re biting into a normal fruit-flavored jelly bean and getting a spicy one. They should be identified by special markings, like those insects that are bad to eat, as a warning to others. I suggest racing stripes.
But if you buy the Russell Stovers, there’s no need to be on the spice alert. And remember: Monday the sales begin! Although, come to think of it, it’s a sign of this particular jelly bean’s superiority that not only are they generally available year-round, but at most stores they are exempted from the post-Easter markdowns. They’re that good.
[NOTE: This is a repost.]