It’s the final day of the 2017 jelly bean season, and today I present the most ambitious review to date on A Boy and His Beans: Gimbal’s Gourmet Jelly Beans!
This bag features a whopping 41 flavors of made-in-the-USA beans, which they also say are made with real fruit juice, and are “a good source of antioxidant vitamin C”.
I’ll probably be comparing Gimbal’s Gourmet Jelly Beans to Jelly Belly (“The Original Gourmet Jelly Bean”) at several points in this review, as the products look very similar on their face. They have a similar size and shape, and a large number of flavors, some of which are very unorthodox as jelly bean flavors go.
Whew, 41 flavors, huh? That’s a lot. How long will the flavors section be? How will I handle the one-of-each test? Read on to find out!
Size and shape
As mentioned above, the size and shape is similar to Jelly Belly, but Gimbal’s beans are slightly fatter.
Also, the Gimbal’s dimple can be somewhat less refined, but it varies somewhat from flavor to flavor. Some flavors’ shells are prone to over-dimpling, and it seems to correlate with the flavors that have translucent, rather than fully opaque, shells.
Being of the mind that Jelly Belly beans were too small, the additional girth is welcome, and despite the inconsistent dimples, the overall shape is quite good.
4 out of 5 beans
The Gimbal’s Gourmet Jelly Beans chewing experience is A++++ would chew again. This is one area in which they significantly differ from Jelly Belly. Whereas Jelly Belly beans have a thin shell but very firm insides that require a bit too much effort, Gimbal’s beans have a stronger shell that gives just the right amount of resistance, and the insides are quite easy to get through.
5 out of 5 beans
The texture on a Gimbal’s bean is generally fine. The shell is soft and usually doesn’t break up in solid chunks; it just gives way into a powdery form, somewhat like SweeTarts Jelly Beans.
The insides are not quite as smooth as I would prefer, but are not excessively gritty, either. There is minimal sticking to the teeth.
3 out of 5 beans
Taste and flavor
- Wild Cherry
- Buttered Popcorn
- Kiwi Strawberry Smoothie
- Strawberry Daiquiri
- French Vanilla
- Roasted Marshmallow
- Wow! Chocolate
- Lemon Meringue
- Tutti Frutti
- Green Apple
- Pink Grapefruit
- Ice Cream Cake
- Red Delicious
- Bubble Gum
- Baja Margarita
- Orange 'n Créme
- Spicy Cinnamon
- Superfruit Fusion
- Verry Blue
- Piña Colada
- Root Beer
- Cotton Candy
- Key Lime
- Sour Cherry
- Fruit Punch
- Perfectly Pear
- Strawberry Cheesecake
Hoo boy. Where to begin?
If you have a passing familiarity with Jelly Belly, you’ll probably recognize a number of the unusual flavors in this list, namely Buttered Popcorn and Roasted Marshmallow. I tried to research which brand of “gourmet” jelly beans came first and discovered plenty of sources saying Jelly Belly beans were introduced in 1976, but was unable to find any solid information on when Gimbal’s introduced their beans. One blog comment I found claims that Gimbal’s Gourmet Jelly Beans predate Jelly Belly by about 20 years, but offers no evidence to support that claim.
Anyway, origin stories aside, how do they taste? There are some real winners in this gigantic roster of flavors! As one would expect with such a wide variety, there are also some duds.
For starters, I will cop to the fact that I have not tried and will not be trying even one Spicy Cinnamon, Coconut, or Piña Colada jelly bean, because those are disgusting. Some other disappointments include having a hard time discerning which beans are Wild Cherry and which are Red Delicious, and weak flavors in Key Lime, Green Apple, and Pomegranate.
But disappointments aside, there are many outstanding fruit flavors here:
- Boysenberry is a very unique flavor in the candy world, executed well
- Pink Grapefruit is always a welcome flavor
- I don’t know what Superfruit Fusion is supposed to be, exactly, but it packs a huge acidic flavor punch
- Sour Cherry is one of the best sour beans I’ve had, because it actually tastes like sour cherry fruit, and it’s not just a regular fruit flavor with citric acid piled on
- Lemon Meringue stars off with a nice tart lemon flavor before the meringue flavor comes along in the finish
- Orange ‘n’ Créme was a pleasant surprise; both components come through clearly, with the orange not tasting artificial
- Similarly both kiwi and strawberry are distinct in Kiwi Strawberry Smoothie, which is better than the Kiwi Strawberry Snapple Jelly Belly
- And speaking of strawberry, the daiquiri part of Strawberry Daiquiri is not just a gimmick, it really puts a nice twist on standard strawberry
Furthermore, almost all of the non-fruit flavors is really well done. A few highlights:
- Java has a really nice depth of flavor; if not for the lack of crunch, you’d almost think you were eating a roasted coffee bean
- Root Beer reminds me a lot of the classic root beer barrel hard candy
- Cotton Candy and Bubblegum, which one might expect to be very similar, are in fact very distinct and accurate in representing those flavors
- Tiramisu is perhaps the best dessert-flavored bean I’ve ever had; its flavor is so spot-on
- Wow! Chocolate reminds me of the classic Jell-O pudding.
- It’s been a while since I’ve had the Jelly Belly versions, but the Gimbal’s also nails the Buttered Popcorn and Roasted Marshmallow
Gimbal’s Fine Candies has produced a huge variety of flavors, and the vast majority of them taste really great. It’s no easy feat, and I am very impressed.
9 out of 10 beans
The one-of-each test
Perhaps the ultimate test of a bag of jelly beans is how enjoyable it is to take one of each flavor and eat them all at the same time.1
No, I’m not going to put all 41 of these beans in my mouth at one time. First, I’ve been made aware that not everyone has read the footnote linked at the end of the above paragraph, so if you haven’t, do that now.
But even if we take out all of the non-fruit flavors, we’ve got 23 to 25 beans, depending on how you count some things like Strawberry Cheesecake. That is still totally impractical.
So here’s what I’ve decided to do: I’ll eat 6 of the most common flavors that I’ve encountered in all my previous reviews at one time and use that mouthful to derive the one-of-each score.
Here are the beans I selected:
- Wild Cherry
- Strawberry Daiquiri
- Orange ‘n Créme
- Lemon Meringue
- Green Apple
Six of the just-slightly-small and also very easy to chew Gimbal’s beans are very easy to manage in the mouth. I could potentially see pushing it to seven or even eight beans in a mouthful of these jelly beans.
The flavors didn’t quite work for me, and I think it may be because three of the flavors I selected had a little something extra in them (the daiquiri, the meringue, and the créme). It seems harsh to penalize them for having more unique flavors, though.
I’d also like to commend Gimbal’s for including combo recipes on the back of their packaging. For example, to make a “Smoothie Blast”, you’d combine a Superfruit Fusion, Red Delicious, Mango, and Perfectly Pear. I tried it and can confirm that that’s a great combo.
So, some of their flavors can definitely work together, but it may require a bit of experimentation to find those compatible combos.
7 out of 10 beans
This is a fantastic bag of diverse jelly beans which has earned itself a tie for the second-highest total rating to date on this site. Well done, Gimbal’s Fine Candies. I look forward to reviewing your sour collection!
|Size and shape||4/5 beans|
|Taste and flavor||9/10 beans|
|One-of-each test||7/10 beans|
This test is specific to fruit flavors only. While non-fruit flavors like licorice or buttered popcorn may be welcome, they are exempt from this test. Because that’s just nasty. ↩