What a difference a week makes, eh? If you’re reading this some time in the future, in the past seven or eight days the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has gotten really real here in the United States, with much of our public life being shut down for some unknown period of time. It’s weird, scary, and unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in my 35 years.
In the spirit of maintaining as much normalcy as possible, I’ll keep on keepin’ on with the reviews for this season. Besides, with all the social distancing we’re doing, I should have even more time for writing these reviews, right?
For this week’s review, we welcome back a brand we last reviewed in 2017: Gimbal’s Fine Candies! I thoroughly enjoyed their Gourmet Jelly Beans for that year’s season finale, and that bag still stands in a tie for the third-highest rating of all time on this site.
For the third and final review in this little triptych of sour reviews over the past few weeks, we look at Gimbal’s Sour Gourmet Jelly Beans. This is another bag that I’m coming into with high expectations, because some seven or eight years ago, I stumbled across another Gimbal’s product in a convenience store in Pennsylvania: Gimbal’s Sour Lovers, and they were the greatest sour gummy candy I’ve ever had in my life. I was never able to find another bag, and tragically, they are now discontinued. I’m hoping that some of that sour flavor magic carried over to the company’s sour jelly beans, though.
Size and shape
These beans seem physically identical to the classic Gimbal’s beans, which is to be expected and is certainly a good thing, since they are a good medium-small size and have a beautiful bean shape.
As noted in the prior review, the size and shape of these beans is so similar to Jelly Belly that if you saw them together, it’d be hard to tell which was which. The other notable observation I made at the time, which was that the semi-translucent beans often have a more pronounced dimple than the opaque beans, remains true, as well.
4 out of 5 beans
Gimbal’s jelly beans offer chewing perfection. They are delightfully easy to sink your teeth into, without falling apart or dissolving too quickly.
5 out of 5 beans
Texture is probably the weak spot for Gimbal’s, if you can even call it that. The shell is wonderfully smooth, but it’s pretty thin and doesn’t break into nice hunks. The insides are fine, but nothing to write home about.
3 out of 5 beans
Taste and flavor
- Sour Apple
- Sour Mango
- Sour Strawberry
- Sour Lime
- Sour Lemon
- Sour Cherry
- Sour Grapefruit
- Sour Pomegranate
- Sour Watermelon
- Sour Blueberry
- Sour Grape
- Sour Tangerine
As before, this category is where Gimbal’s shines. Blessedly, this Gimbal’s bag only offers 12 flavors, which is much easier to wrap your head around than the 41 Flavors of their classic Gourmet Jelly Beans. Almost all of them are outstanding. Here’s a quick impression for each:
- The Apple bean tastes definitively like apple, though not necessarily a Granny Smith, which one would expect, given the color of the bean. Reminds me of a tart apple cider.
- Sour Watermelon has always been a bit of a strange concept for me, since the range of tastes that exist in real-world watermelons doesn’t even come close to approaching anything that could be called sour. But this is still recognizable as a watermelon flavor, just with some extra acidity.
- Mango is not one of my favorite fruits, but the flavor is captured pretty accurately here.
- It takes a couple seconds of chewing a Strawberry bean for the acidity of a perfectly ripe strawberry to come through. Until that point, it tastes more like bubble gum.
- Lemon and Lime both seem close to their real world fruits, but both fall prey to the classic blunder of not tasting as sour as the sour flavor representation of a fruit that’s already very sour should taste (as just discussed last week with Welch’s sour lemon bean).
- You may remember that Grapefruit is one of my favorite fruits. This is a great representation, capturing both the the tartness and slight bitterness of white grapefruits.
- I think if you gave someone one of these Pomegranate beans blind and asked them what flavor it was, they’d probably say it was raspberry, but if I close my eyes and picture eating pomegranate arils while I chew, I get the resemblance.
- I’ve always had a hard time really tasting blueberries in Blueberry-flavored candy, and that is true here, as well. This is probably my least favorite of the set.
- Grape is solid. Not much else to say about it.
- The Tangerine bean tastes great, but it could just as easily been called Orange.
- And the star of the show is Cherry, a flavor so in the wheelhouse for Gimbal’s that they sell bags of nothing more than nine different flavors of cherry jelly beans.
There are no complete duds in the bunch, and almost all of them really nail the flavor of the fruits they are trying to represent. The bag advertises prominently that they are made with real fruit juice, and I think it shows. Other than lemon and lime, the sour levels are pretty good without being overwhelming. Gimbal’s scores another near perfect Taste and Flavor category!
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
For the 41-flavor Gimbal’s review and the 18-flavor Trader Joe’s review, I declined to truly eat one of each, choosing a subset of common flavors instead. In this case, 12 seems like a challenge I can rise to.
It is a lot, volumetrically, but it’s manageable. The beans are small enough and the chewability perfect enough that it’s not uncomfortable to take down the whole bunch in a reasonable amount of time.
It’s also a lot, flavor-wise. There are too many flavors going on for any of them to really stand apart from each other. They do end up tasting like one combined flavor. It reminds me of a tropical fruit juice blend that leans heavily on orange juice as its base. It’s not a bad experience, but I’d rather experience more of the individual flavors.
6 out of 10 beans
Gimbal’s shines again, with this sour set scoring just one bean less than their classic counterpart. I think I’ll have to pick up that cherry collection and see how well they can distinguish nine different cherry flavors.
|Size and shape||4/5 beans|
|Taste and flavor||9/10 beans|
|One-of-each test||6/10 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. ↩