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Sour, salty and hot: Jelly bean favorite flavors reflect the national mood

Burt's Eye View

This may sound un-American, but I detest jelly beans.

A few decades ago, we elected a U.S. president who kept a jar of Jelly Belly beans on his desk. I have been suspicious of politicians ever since.

“You can tell a lot about a fellow’s character by his way of eating jelly

beans,” President Ronald Reagan said.

He probably would have had my character escorted out the White House doors for spitting the gooey masses into the nearest Oval Office trash can like so many watermelon seeds. (Incidentally, watermelon is a flavor of jelly beans.)

Please, if you plan on dropping confections in my Easter basket, chocolate-covered peanut butter eggs are the way to go. Or solid, dark chocolate bunnies.

Historians claim that the first mention of bean-shaped sugar candies with colorful soft shells and gel interiors came in 1861 when Boston confectioner William Schrafft urged friends and families to ship his jellybeans to Civil War soldiers — whether to friend or foe wasn’t specified.

According to my friends at bulk supplier CandyStore.com, more than 16 billion jellybeans are made each year just for the Easter season alone. If you laid 16 billion jellybeans end to end and started nibbling, you’d suffer a monstrous stomachache that would stretch all the way until next Easter or a third of the way to the moon, whichever came first.

Well more than 100 jelly bean flavors have been produced, according to Jelly Belly, perhaps the most famous maker of the squishy candies. Jelly Belly lists 50 official flavors, including cantaloupe, cappuccino, chocolate pudding, chili mango, Dr Pepper and limited-time flavor Tabasco sauce.

Using 13 years of candy sales data and the more than 10,000 survey responses, CandyStore.com mapped out the favorite flavors of jellybeans nationally and by state.

Here in Ohio, the top three flavors are cinnamon, followed by black licorice and buttered popcorn. Next door in Pennsylvania, it’s cinnamon, black licorice and then blueberry.

Nevada prefers coconut; Idaho wants orange; Florida and Washington State go for juicy pear; Maine is a root beer state; and Mississippi will take pink strawberry, thank you very much.

Overall, the reigning jelly bean flavor champion of the United States for the second year in a row is cinnamon.

CandyStore.com says that American tastes have become more sour, salty and hot — which sounds like we’re talking politics again.

No. 2 on the national list is black licorice, the former big bean that fell to third three years ago.

No. 3 is another former champ, buttered popcorn.

From there, the popular flavors for 2021 in order are cherry, juicy pear, coffee, watermelon (told you!), root beer, cotton candy, orange, sour, coconut, toasted marshmallow, chocolate, green apple, blueberry, strawberry, grape, banana, bubble gum and red apple.

As for Mr. Reagan’s observation, Jelly Belly recommends that the way a person eats jellybeans should be just one flavor at a time for the best tasting experience — unless using the Official Jelly Belly Recipe chart to create a different taste. For example, two green apples and one cinnamon bean taken all at once equals a triple shot of candy apple.

My character says, “Blech! Please pass the Hershey’s Miniatures.”

— Judge Cole’s character at burtseyeview@tribtoday.com or at burtonwcole.com

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