Faithful readers may remember that the original SweeTarts Jelly Beans held the top rating on this site for over three years, before being unseated last season by the new champ, Trader Joe’s Gourmet Jelly Beans. SweeTarts Jelly Beans are also the bag I most often reach for when it’s time for spring training.
You can imagine my excitement, then, when I discovered last year that SweeTarts HQ had released a sour variant of these venerable beans! I’ve been looking forward to reviewing these quite a lot since adding the bag to my queue.
The physical characteristics of these beans are exactly the same as the classic SweeTarts jelly beans, so I won’t dwell too much on those first three categories, but I’ll give them a brief reconsideration, in case any of my preferences have evolved over the last four years.
Size and shape
This remains the worst scoring category for SweeTarts. Average size is just about right, but the variance is quite high. Most beans are not well-rounded and resemble a squashed sphere, rather than the more oblong traditional bean shape. And there are a significant number of beans with appendages and double beans.
Size and shape are just not these beans’ strong suit.
1 out of 5 beans
Chewability is still perfect. Nice give on the shell, the right amount of firmness on the inside, and they linger long enough without taking forever to finish chewing.
5 out of 5 beans
Texture continues to be one of the differentiators for SweeTarts Jelly Beans, particularly the way that the shell transitions from entry to breakup to that powdery final form that reminds you of having chewed a classic SweeTart candy. The smooth insides are great in their own right, too.
5 out of 5 beans
Taste and flavor
- Green Apple
- Blue Punch
When it comes to flavors, there are a few interesting differences between the classic SweeTarts Jelly Beans and these sour flavors. First, there is no grape in the sour lineup. It’s been replaced with what I believe to be strawberry, which is now the pink-colored bean. The cherry flavor has been given a much brighter, more saturated red color, which seems out of keeping with SweeTarts’ traditionally desaturated colors.
The boost of acidity that comes with the sour territory affects some flavors more than others. For example, I noted in the original SweeTarts review that I couldn’t really tell that the green bean was supposed to be green apple. The sour green bean, however, tastes much more like a crisp Granny Smith. On the other hand, the lemon flavor of the original SweeTarts jelly beans (and classic hard candy) was already pretty sour, and the sour lemon bean here doesn’t seem any more sour than it already was.
In fact, about half the time you eat a bean or two, you might not realize they were supposed to be a sour variant if you didn’t already know. The level of sourness seems to vary considerably from bean to bean. This is disappointing.
Still, these jelly beans do a great job of representing that classic SweeTarts flavor profile, and they’re just so darn tasty that I had to stop myself from finishing the bag before I could sit down and write the review.
7 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
The original SweeTarts jelly beans are the only set of beans in the site’s first four years to score a perfect 10 out of 10 on the one-of-each test. Unsurprisingly, the sour edition performs extremely well, too! That said, I will not give it a perfect 10 in this case, because in the sour format the separation of flavors gets a little bit lost behind all of that acid.
9 out of 10 beans
Though SweeTarts Sour Jelly Beans fall two beans short of their brethren, they are still a top-notch bag to have around when you want that extra kick of tartness. Sadly, it appears they may already be discontinued, as the SweeTarts official site makes no mention of them, and I haven’t seen them in any stores this year. If you come across any, let me know so I can stock up!
|Size and shape||1/5 beans|
|Taste and flavor||7/10 beans|
|One-of-each test||9/10 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. ↩