Inquiring Minds: Jelly beans, a perfect treat

Q. How long have jelly beans been manufactured?

A. Jelly beans have been around at least since the Civil War. In 1861, the Schrafft Company of Boston advertised their jelly beans as the perfect treat to send to the Union soldiers on the frontlines. 

The true ancestor of the jelly bean is probably a Middle Eastern candy known as Turkish Delight. Like jelly beans, Turkish Delight features a solid jelly-like interior covered with sugar. In the case of Turkish Delight, the sugar coating is made of fairly messy powdered sugar. The great technological advantage of jelly beans comes from their non-messy, smooth, hard sugar shell. The confectionary process that gives them that surface is known as “panning.” It involves rolling the candies around in a drum-shaped container that resembles a cement-mixer, while spraying them with a fine sugar mist. Each circuit around the drum adds another thin sugar coating.

It was President Reagan’s favorite candy and there was a jar of jelly beans on his desk in the oval office.

(Why Do Donuts Have Holes? Fascinating Facts about What We Eat and Drink.)

- Do you have a question for the staff at the Roseville Library? You can call them at 651-628-6803 or ask your question in person at the Information Desk, Roseville Library, 2180 Hamline Ave. Library hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday.


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