By Dane Feldman
Additional Contributors: Veronica Chavez, Molly Freeman
Photo by Molly Freeman.
The Jelly Belly Candy Company’s headquarters may be in Fairfield, California, but we found a Jelly Belly hub in our neighborhood bodega, Cafe Deli-Cious. They sell at least six different varieties, but we drew the line for our taste test at four.
Here’s what we thought about the Cocktail Classics, Superfruit Mix, Sours, and Tropical Mix.
Cocktails and jelly beans. Jelly beans and cocktails. To see two of my favorite things conjoined in such a manner truly brings me joy. The Peach Bellini? A truly peachy bean. The Margarita? Time-warped me back to the beaches in Mexico. And don’t even get me started on that Pina Colada jelly bean (it was perfect).
This mix was my least favorite. Blueberry was lame. Then there was Barbados Cherry, whatever the hell that is, which was lackluster. And then Acai Berry, Cranberry, and Pomegranate, which although they were all fairly accurate in flavor, were simply not flavors I could eat non-stop, which is how I usually determine if a bean is worthy.
Anyone who knows me knows I love sour things. So it comes as no surprise that this mix would rank highest on my list. While the beans didn’t exactly make me pucker from sourness, it definitely took a lot of flavors present in other bags and made them better. Many of the flavors also made me think of other products. For example, Apple tasted like a sour green apple Blow Pop, Orange like Tic-Tacs, and Grape like grape soda. I’d give the bag an 8.5/10.
The Tropical Mix had the most variety of all the bags but I’ve got to say, they could have left some out. Top Banana? First of all, why top? Where’s the bottom? What did you guys do with the bottom half? Also: fail. Jelly Belly you have been added to the list of companies that have failed in perfecting the banana flavor.
Mango was just a mistake in my life and Kiwi had absolutely no resemblance to the beloved fruit. There is one thing that almost saved this bag though and that is Coconut. I’m totally biased on this front since coconut is my favorite flavor of all time, but Jelly Belly, you nailed it.
Sours. Photo by Dane Feldman.
On the whole, this bag had a lot diverse and interesting flavors. The Mojito, Peach Bellini, and Margarita flavors were all absolute standouts, though the rest were either forgettable or far too sugary. The Cocktail Classics are worth checking out for the novelty if you love jelly beans, but I don’t see it as a good standard.
I found all the flavors in this bag to be exceptionally distinct from each other, which was surprising given how similar the colors are. It’s nearly impossible to tell them apart without tasting them, so it’s always a surprise (hope you like surprises!). Personally, I thought the flavors were a little too overwhelming and I didn’t enjoy most of them–Acai Berry was okay, I guess.
By far my favorite bag was the Sours. It’s just far enough off the beaten jelly bean path to be interesting but not too far to be a novelty, especially since the flavors are normal: Apple, Cherry, Grape, Lemon, and Orange. These jelly beans had just the right mixture of sour and sweet that each flavor was delicious.
With 16 flavors in the bag, Jelly Belly’s Tropical Mix certainly has a lot to offer, but not all of it is worth checking out. The bag contains a wide array of flavors from those outside-the-box like Cantaloupe and Kiwi, to the more standard Peach and Lemon. That being said, most of the flavors aren’t very good–although I was a fan of Lemon Lime and Tangerine. I’ll take a whole bag of just those, please.
Tropical Mix. Photo by Dane Feldman.
It doesn’t take much more than a first impression of me to learn that I harbor a deep passion for cocktail culture. It may take a few more impressions before I reveal my love for jelly beans, but believe me it’s out there. For that reason, the Cocktail Classics is something of a coveted bag of candy for me.
Margarita truly tastes spot on. Is there tequila in these things? I have no idea (read: probably not), but they’re awesome. Coming in strong in second place is the Mojito. When I first tasted this, I actually said, “That is fucking bonkers.” So, yeah. Right on, Jelly Belly.
I had a tough time differentiating some of the flavors in the Superfruit Mix. The colors are nearly identical, but they’re all pretty great for me, with the exception of the Acai Berry (I thought it was weird). The Cranberry and Barbados Cherry were both sweet and pleasantly tart and the Pomegranate was much more tasty for me than the Pomegranate Cosmo in Cocktail Classics.
When it comes to sweets, I will skip the cake, the chocolate, and the ice cream 10 times out of 10 if sour candy is anywhere in the vicinity. I love Warheads, Sour Patch Kids, sour gummy worms, you name it, but the Sours bag of Jelly Bellies may take the aforementioned cake. Seriously, I don’t want the cake.
Apple is wonderfully tart and mouth-wateringly sour. Cherry embodies what every candy company should be vying for: it tastes more tart than the Cherry in the Superfruit Mix and it tastes NOTHING like medicine. Grape comes a little closer to cough medicine territory, but it’s still solid. Lemon and Orange are perfect, truly. If I was forced to eat no other candy but the Sour Lemon jelly bean, let’s just say it wouldn’t take much coercing. It would take no coercing.
This bag has 16 flavors and some of them are way too out there for me. Frankly, Top Banana tastes like caramelized bananas mixed with day-old plantains. That sounds good, but seriously it isn’t. I’d skip it. If you like coconut, the Coconut is rather intense, but spot on. Mango tastes a bit like I imagine sweat would. Veto. It’s also green? Bit odd for me.
With that said, Cantaloupe is not only the perfect hue of cantaloupe flesh, but it is also completely accurate in flavor: light, subtly sweet, and refreshing. I’m not sure what Island Punch is supposed to taste like, but I loved it along with the Berry Blue, Sunkist Pink Grapefruit, Sunkist Tangerine, and Lemon Lime, which reminded me a bit of 7-Up.
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