I know a lot of folks have been wondering when I’d get around to this. It’s time to finally review of one of the most famous brands of jelly beans in the world: Jelly Belly! “The Original Gourmet Jelly Bean”, they say.
My readers probably know that Jelly Belly has approximately 843 flavors in their lineup, across several dozen variety packs that they release, so I figured the best way to approach it in a digestible manner (no pun intended) would be to try to, as much as possible, review them in their smaller packages, which tend to have a manageable number of flavors in them.
This is the first such review, covering one of Jelly Belly’s many co-branding partnerships: Snapple. True to the Snapple brand, the front of the packaging advertises that these jelly beans contain real fruit juices and purees, 100% natural flavors, and colors from natural sources. I’m not one to get hung up on eating wholly artificial foods (see: this entire website), but it doesn’t hurt to feel like the candy you’re eating is marginally healthier than most. And the real fruit components probably improve the flavor quality.
But now I’m getting ahead of myself. On to the review!
Size and shape
To put it simply, Jelly Belly jelly beans are the pinnacle of shape, a model to which all jelly bean makers should aspire. They are almost perfectly round, with a smooth-edged dimple on one side. No sharp corners here. They’re not all 100% perfect, of course; no one is. But they are also a model of consistency.
I think the shape is one reason that Jelly Belly has built one of the world’s best-known jelly bean brands.
Unfortunately, they are a bit undersized for my taste, which will cost them a bean here.
4 out of 5 beans
Chewability is the weak category for Jelly Belly. I find that they require a bit too much effort to chew. Interestingly, though, it’s not that the shell is not too thick or hard, which is the plight of most beans that are difficult to chew. In the case of Jelly Belly beans, it’s really the insides that are very firm and offer the most resistance.
Jelly Belly does get credit for being consistent in their chewing experience. It’s clearly a stylistic choice they’ve made to have a stronger bean, and that may be preferable to some people. Personally, I’d like them to be just a little softer.
2 out of 5 beans
I love the texture of Jelly Belly jelly beans. The smooth shell, the insides that don’t become mealy, that perfect amount of stickiness – it all works for me.
They are very unique in one particular way, though: The shell is so thin that it is practically indistinct from the insides the instant you start chewing. It’s like, whatever process they use to create the shell, they do that for the absolute minimum amount of time necessary to create a firm, shiny exterior for the bean, and then stop. It’s particularly notable because a large number of other brands make the mistake of having a shell that is way too thick.
You’ve probably seen me praise beans with a substantial shell in the past, which I don’t mind as long as it is easy enough to chew through and is in balance with the volume of the insides, but I’m equally fond of these beans for their minimal shell accomplishment. It’s different, but in a good and tasty way. The thin shell adds a sparkle to the texture of the smooth insides, without feeling grainy.
5 out of 5 beans
Taste and flavor
- Fruit Punch
- Kiwi Strawberry
- Mango Madness
- Cranberry Raspberry
- Pink Lemonade
While I wasn’t blown away, there are some very good flavors in this package. Not all that surprising, given the pedigree of Jelly Belly and Snapple.
- I don’t know what fruit punch is, but I have known since I was a kid what it tastes like, and this jelly bean tastes like it.
- The kiwi isn’t coming through too well for me, but the strawberry is that classic sweet strawberry flavor.
- I’m not a big mango fan, but it’s faithfully represented here.
- Both the cranberry and the raspberry are distinctly present in that flavor.
- I also don’t know what pink lemonade is, but this bean definitely tastes like the pink lemonade I’ve had.
The amount of flavor you get from a single tiny Jelly Belly bean has always been impressive, and these flavors meet that high standard.
I’m a bit disappointed that there was no iced tea flavor of some kind, since tea is one of the things Snapple is most known for, but this is a very nice selection that I feel really captures some of Snapple’s signature flavors.
6 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
Jelly Belly jelly beans are always going to have a hard time with the one-of-each test, due to their low chewability rating. On the bright side, though the smaller bean size helps somewhat, and their flavors are so distinctive that it makes for a delightful range of tastes in the mouth, once you get everything solidly bitten into.
6 out of 10 beans
|Size and shape||4/5 beans|
|Taste and flavor||6/10 beans|
|One-of-each test||6/10 beans|
It’s funny the things I learn about myself when writing these reviews. I used to believe that Jelly Belly was the pinnacle of jelly bean quality, but as reviewed in this framework, they (this batch of flavors, at least) end up being only middle-of-the-road.
They’re still undoubtedly a very high quality bean that I can confidently recommend. And if you like beans that are a bit of a tougher chew, you should be as happy as a pig in slop.
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. ↩