Tuesday, April 22, 2014

What’s the Scene, Jelly Bean?

April 22 is National Jelly Bean Day, a day to enjoy gobs and gobs of the sweet gummy treat.
While historians can’t exactly say how, when or why Jelly Bean Day began, it is safe to say that individuals have been enjoying jelly beans for over 100 years.

The Turkish Delight, a Middle Eastern sweet made of soft jelly, covered in confectioner’s powder, was an early precursor to today’s jelly bean and its gummy interior. It is believed that the jelly bean first surfaced in 1861 when Boston confectioner William Schrafft urged people to send his jelly beans to soldiers during the American Civil War as a morale booster.

One of the most famous jelly bean connoisseurs was United States President Ronald Reagan. A blueberry flavor jelly bean was specially created for his 1981 Presidential Inauguration. Believe it or not, more than 3 tons of jelly beans were eaten during this event! President Reagan was responsible for launching the very first jelly beans into space when he sent a jar to the 1983 Challenger crew as a surprise for the astronauts. President Reagan always kept a jar of jelly beans on his desk in the Oval Office; “We can hardly start a meeting or make a decision without passing around the jar of jelly beans.”

Today, jelly beans are more popular than ever. Each year in the United States there are 16 billion jelly beans manufactured just for Easter. This is enough to circle the Earth more than 3 times if they were laid end to end. According to Jelly Belly, the top manufacturer of jelly beans, Very Cherry remained the most popular flavor of Jelly Beans for two decades until 1998, when Buttered Popcorn moved into first place. In 2003 Very Cherry moved back into top position by a mere 8 million beans world- wide, and that is where it remains.

Suggested reads for our youngest bean-loving patrons:

Arthur's Jelly Beans by Marc Tolon Brown
How Many Jelly Beans? by Andrea Menotti
Jelly Beans for Sale by Bruce McMillan
Jelly Beans from Start to Finish by Claire Kreger
The Giant Jelly Bean Jar by Marcie Aboff
The Jelly Bean Fun Book by Karen Capucilli

Carla Perkins
Avondale Library

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