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View Full Version : What's the deal with black jellybeans?


Lamia
02-02-2003, 04:25 PM
This is a very light topic for GQ and I wouldn't be surpised if the mods decided to shunt it off to Cafe Society or IMHO, but I am posting it here because I'm interested in a factual answer and not people's personal opinions on the relative tastiness of different flavors of jellybeans.

Not too long ago I was at a candy store looking to purchase a gift for a couple who had invited me over to dinner. I ended up purchasing a nice box of jellybeans, but not after looking long and hard to see if there was any kind of pre-packaged assortment available without the black licorice flavored jellybeans. I don't care for black licorice myself, and knew at least one of my friends didn't either. It's not a very popular flavor; I often seen people just pick them out of the assortment and throw them away. Children especially seem to hate the taste of black jellybeans. So I have to wonder, why do the jellybean manufacturers even bother? I mean, I can see including them in the really nice big assortments that have all kinds of exotic flavors, but why make one of six or twelve or twenty-five flavors a flavor that few people are even willing to eat? It seems to me that some candy manufacturer could make a killing selling licorice-free assortments.

I have heard that black licorice is far more popular in some other countries than it is in the US, so perhaps it's for the overseas market. Or maybe black licorice was once more popular here than it is now, and the flavor is included out of tradition. I just wanted to see if anyone knew what the straight dope on this matter was.

mblackwell
02-02-2003, 04:31 PM
They put them in there because they are the best kind. I love getting the all-black bags for 25 cents at Big Lots.

Serious related question: If it isn't black, can it really be licorice?

ultrafilter
02-02-2003, 04:32 PM
I'd have to assume that, with all the market research being done by companies these days, that black licorice jellybeans aren't as unpopular as you think they are. I like 'em.

Jiminy
02-02-2003, 04:35 PM
IMO, I love the black licorice and so do other people, including Mr. Jellybelly himself. When the crack team of ace scientists made the jellybeans, they of course had to come up with a wide variety of different flavors (I don't know how much, but it was alot). The test subjects had to eat all of the different varieties each (which included black licorice) to narrow down each one's taste to make a probability. i.e. 5 out of ten people prefer the black licorice. The test subjects liked the black licorice flavor somehow and that was that. The people got what the people wanted, and that was that. Black licorice flavors is now sold at your local convenience store

GuanoLad
02-02-2003, 04:37 PM
They used to sell bags of JUST black jellybeans in my local supermarkets. I love em. YUM!!

But then, I ain't American.

I can't believe that's butter!
02-02-2003, 04:41 PM
I'm another American who appreciates the black jellybeans. Not surprisingly, I like black licorice as well, especially the kind that has a bluish tint rather than a brown tint.

Tamerlane
02-02-2003, 04:48 PM
They do have a market. Oddly enough both me and a co-worker are extremely fond of black licorice and cherry jelly-bellys. Even odder, the company makes ( or at least made ) a product just for us - A bag containing only those two flavors. So obviously there is something going on with taste buds here - Apparently enough folks that like that one, like the other - enough to justify marketing to just that segment.

Frankly I find the "buttered popcorn" flavor infinitely more offensive ( I wonder if there is a positive correlation betwen licorice/cherry lovers and "popcorn" haters :) ). However according to jellybelly.com, cherry was surpassed as the most popular flavor by popcorn in 1998. We're losing the war :(.

- Tamerlane

mangeorge
02-02-2003, 04:50 PM
I'm always a little disappointed that the black beans don't taste licorice-y enough. My friend used to get this licorice candy, from England I think, that was strongly flavored. I don't remember the name, but it was disk shaped, and the consistancy of dense fudge. Not hard. Yummy.
Peace,
mangeorge

SC_Wolf
02-02-2003, 05:36 PM
I always called the black ones "Easter Bunny Turds".

Archergal
02-02-2003, 05:37 PM
In my experience as a licorice lover, most people HATE licorice flavors. There are a few special people out there who love it.:D

Mandarax
02-02-2003, 05:46 PM
Originally posted by Lamia
Children especially seem to hate the taste of black jellybeans. So I have to wonder, why do the jellybean manufacturers even bother?You've got to figure that if there's a market for vomit (http://capcandy.com/pl/page.viewproduct/product_id.9283/dn/default.cfm) jelly beans, there ought to be a huge market for licorice ones.

AncientHumanoid
02-02-2003, 05:46 PM
Do black jelly beans speak AAVE? (http://boards.academicpursuits.us/sdmb/showthread.php?s=&threadid=143799)

Sorry, Lamia, couldn't resist. :D

Mangetout
02-02-2003, 05:50 PM
Originally posted by mangeorge
I'm always a little disappointed that the black beans don't taste licorice-y enough. My friend used to get this licorice candy, from England I think, that was strongly flavored. I don't remember the name, but it was disk shaped, and the consistancy of dense fudge. Not hard. Yummy.Pontefract cakes.

Lamia
02-02-2003, 06:14 PM
I can believe there is some market for black licorice jellybeans, but I have a hard time believing they're popular enough to merit inclusion in packages that have only a few flavors. I've just seen too many people spit them out or throw them away. Does anyone have any info on what the most popular flavors actually are? I checked out the Jellybelly link, but couldn't find any more info than what Tamerlane said -- cherry was the most popular Jellybelly flavor for decades, but now it's buttered popcorn. I find that far more perplexing than the presence of black licorice in practically all (even non-Jellybelly) assortments, because I think the popcorn Jellybellys are downright vile. Maybe I'm just woefully out of touch with the jellybean preferences of the American public!

Originally posted by NoClueBoy
Do black jelly beans speak AAVE? (http://boards.academicpursuits.us/sdmb/showthread.php?s=&threadid=143799)

Sorry, Lamia, couldn't resist. :D

Only some of the American ones. Licorice is hugely popular in Holland, and black jellybeans from there speak various Dutch dialects. :)

fish in the sky
02-02-2003, 06:24 PM
I hate black licorice and black jelly beans. Everybody I know hates black licorice and black jelly beans.

However, I work at a grocery store where we sell both red and black licorice. The black is far, far more popular.

I dunno. People are weird.

Larry Mudd
02-02-2003, 06:32 PM
Licorice (and fennel) is good.

Black Jelly-beans are the best.

GloriaMundi
02-02-2003, 06:37 PM
What does black jellybeans taste like? Are they sweet, strong, salty?
I'm curious because I've heard that foreigners generally find that popular danish liquorice flavours are quite strange. I'm thinking of flavours such as salt, sal ammoniac (ammonium chloride) and menthol. I personally like sal ammoniac very much, and I don't really care for sweet liquorice. Most people that I know, prefers strong flavours too, in mixed bags, the sweet liquorice is never eaten.

Is it true? Do you prefer your sweets sweet? ;)

And I'm sorry, but I can't cite this, it's only hearsay. But you can take look on this page: http://danish-deli-food.com/English/Shop/products.asp?pid=3 - I think this is generally popular sweets, and half of them are not really sweet sweets.

A final note: One of my friends brought a bag of ammoniac flavoured candy ( http://danish-deli-food.com/English/Shop/productdetail.asp?recid=80 ) with her to India, and her friends and family all went: Eeeeew, tastes like medicine! How can you eat this?!

Dignan
02-02-2003, 06:51 PM
Lamia, you're right, the black jellybeans do taste awful. I can't explain the crazy people that like them.

Jelly Belly has a new blackberry flavor that, if not looked at closely can be mistaken for black licorice and vice versa. Eating a black looking jelly bean these days is always an adventure; sometimes there's a payoff, sometimes there's a lot of gagging and spitting.

Intaglio
02-02-2003, 07:13 PM
I love Black Licorice Jelly Beans,

I love when Easter comes around and I can buy a whole bag of Black Licorice Jelly Beans.

slipster
02-02-2003, 07:15 PM
Michael O'Donaghue once observed that "licorice is the liver of candy" meaning, I guess, that a lot of people don't like it, but some people (including me) like it a lot.

It has been pointed out a long time that a minority of consumers strongly prefer black jellybeans. I dimly recall that this was a plot point in a Little Lulu story many years ago. Mr. Moffett, Lulu's father, got stuck with a whopping great bill for jelly beans. The candy store owner explained "The young man (I believe it may have been Alvin, the little boy next door), insisted on only black ones."

It strikes me too that black jelly beans generally seem to have a distinctive texture, being less slick and gooey inside.

If anyone is keeping track, add me to the list of people who find the popcorn flavored ones vaguely nasty.

Wearia
02-02-2003, 07:32 PM
Black jellybeans are also a sort of tradition also. Those little quarter machines wouldn't be the same without the black dots would they?
Personally, I like black jellybeans but can't stomach black licorice. I also really like the popcorn ones. In fact the last time I got jellybeans it was a mix of black and popcorn.

Nanoda
02-02-2003, 08:00 PM
Well, everybody I know loves the black jelly beans. I've never even heard of popcorn flavoured beans... sounds odd. I'd probably like them better than the green jelly beans though. If I wanted the taste of mint I'd go brush my teeth. :dubious: <-- Hee. He looks like he just ate a green one.

David Simmons
02-02-2003, 08:05 PM
The partiotism of all US residents who don't love licorice jelly beans is being looked into by the Justice Department at this very moment. You have been warned!

yBeayf
02-02-2003, 08:08 PM
I admit it! I'm one of the people who are causing the popcorn jelly beans to be so popular. They are by far my favorite flavor of jellybean. I'm the only one I know who likes them, though, so whenever I'm in a group of people eating Jellybellys I get all the popcorn ones. Thus, the net level of popcorn jellybean consumption remains normal.

Originally posted by Tamerlane
I wonder if there is a positive correlation betwen licorice/cherry lovers and "popcorn" haters
I like licorice and cherry jellybeans as well, so strike one against that theory :) .

mangeorge
02-02-2003, 08:16 PM
Originally posted by Mangetout
Pontefract cakes.
Thanks a million, Mangetout, that would be them. Found a source, too.
Note to anyone who really likes licorice; try these.

erislover
02-02-2003, 08:17 PM
Originally posted by GloriaMundi
I'm curious because I've heard that foreigners generally find that popular danish liquorice flavours are quite strange.My boss is Danish and he sometimes brings anise candies back with him. They are vastly different than black licorice here in the states, I must admit. Far less sweet. But I actually liked them very much, though I can't say I thought they were better or worse than the typical sweetness of a jellybean. I don't know what they were, or if anything like that is even sold here. They were coin-shaped, I remember that.

I just like the flavoring in general. I sometimes put some anise schnapps in my coffee. Mmmm...

I must admit, this page is filled with more black jellybean likers than I have ever known IRL.

Absolutely tangential to the thread, but while trying to search on the infamous black beast that is the licorice jelly bean, I found this: Jelly Belly® Jelly Beans & Evolutionary Principles in the Classroom (http://nabt.org/sub/htdi/v62n01p042.asp). An absolutely fascinating read about teaching students about selective processes at work in nature given a normal distribution of jelly bean flavors! :D

Hello Again
02-02-2003, 08:26 PM
GloriaMundi licorice jellybeans are sugary with a licorice/anise flavor. How strong it is depends on the brand.

The idea of jellybeans being intentionally salty is... unAmerican. Even the "buttered popcorn" flavor of jellybean that a few people are mentioning is not salty at all, it is sweet and oddly butter-flavored. Better living through chemistry and all that.

For one American review of salty licorice (these views are not representative of those held by the Chicago Reader etc.) read on:
http://bad-candy.com/old/bc3/doublezout/

GuanoLad
02-02-2003, 08:31 PM
Are you talking about Aniseed? America doesn't have aniseed sweets?

Wow, you licorice (liquorice) lovers would like that, but the haters would throw up :)

HPL
02-02-2003, 08:32 PM
They aren't my favorite, but I do rather enjoy the black jellybeans.

*Just because everyone you know doesn't like them nobody likes them*

HPL
02-02-2003, 08:34 PM
Crap, the above sentence should read:

*Just because everyone you know doesn't like them dosen't mean that nobody likes them, unless you know everyone on an intimate enough basis to know if they like black jellybeans or not*

kanicbird
02-02-2003, 08:37 PM
I would say that most 'normal' jellybeans have a very neutral flavor that almost everyone likes. The black ones have a distinctive flavor that some people like and some don't.

That;s all I really have to say about it.

Lamia
02-02-2003, 09:17 PM
Originally posted by GloriaMundi
What does black jellybeans taste like? Are they sweet, strong, salty?
I'm curious because I've heard that foreigners generally find that popular danish liquorice flavours are quite strange. I'm thinking of flavours such as salt, sal ammoniac (ammonium chloride) and menthol. I personally like sal ammoniac very much, and I don't really care for sweet liquorice. Most people that I know, prefers strong flavours too, in mixed bags, the sweet liquorice is never eaten.

Is it true? Do you prefer your sweets sweet? ;)


American black licorice is probably what you would consider sweet, although it tends to be less sweet than our other kinds of candy (which I understand are very sweet indeed by global standards). I don't know if you can even get salt or sal ammoniac licorice in the US, at least not without a lot of searching. I had a Dutch student teacher in high school who loved salt licorice and was rather surprised to learn upon sharing with her students that Americans almost universally found it revolting, but I think she was probably happy not to feel obligated to share her precious supply with us any more!

Originally posted by k2dave
I would say that most 'normal' jellybeans have a very neutral flavor that almost everyone likes. The black ones have a distinctive flavor that some people like and some don't.

That;s all I really have to say about it.

You're probably right, and much the same could be said about one of my favorite flavors, spicy cinnamon. But I have to go to a bit of trouble to make sure that I'm getting an assortment of jellybeans that contains cinnamon, while even the really cheap-o bags of store-brand jellybeans with only a few flavors always seem to have plenty of black ones. However, this thread is convincing me that there are enough people who really love black jellybeans to compensate (or more than compensate) for those who can't stand them. I guess the same isn't true of most other polarizing flavors.

istara
02-03-2003, 12:52 AM
Originally posted by Tamerlane
Frankly I find the "buttered popcorn" flavor infinitely more offensive ( I wonder if there is a positive correlation betwen licorice/cherry lovers and "popcorn" haters :) ). However according to jellybelly.com, cherry was surpassed as the most popular flavor by popcorn in 1998. We're losing the war :(.

Something weird happened to me with popcorn jelly beans. I used to *adore* their flavour, buy whole bags of just them and toasted marshmallow.

Then suddenly - one day - they started tasting of chemicals. Metallic and artificial and unpleasant. At first I thought I had a bad batch, so I tried again a couple of times. Same result. So I waited some weeks/months. Same result.

It's like my taste buds must have suddenly developed, or got permanent overload or something. Weird and disappointing. The further sad thing was that it sort of made me wary of all jelly belly beans, though I kept eating the other flavours for a while. Now however I don't eat them at all, because they contain artificial colours which I now avoid in my diet.

02-03-2003, 01:37 AM
Life is like a bag of jellybeans..

*not my belief.. just a joke i heard*

Ephemera
02-03-2003, 02:06 AM
Frankly I find the "buttered popcorn" flavor infinitely more offensive ( I wonder if there is a positive correlation betwen licorice/cherry lovers and "popcorn" haters ).

Mmm.. my three favorite flavors. So that's a big nope. :)

SC_Wolf
02-03-2003, 09:09 AM
Has anyone tried the new buttered popcorn flavored Mike & Ikes? In my professional opinion as a former movie theater concessionist I think they've got a hit on their hands.

elfkin477
02-03-2003, 09:22 AM
Originally posted by Wearia
Personally, I like black jellybeans but can't stomach black licorice. I also really like the popcorn ones. In fact the last time I got jellybeans it was a mix of black and popcorn.

Me too, I love black jelly beans but wouldn't eat black licorice if you paid me. I don't think that [i]most[/b] black jelly beans taste like licorice at all, so I'm not sure where the connection in people's minds comes in. I tried Jelly Belly black jellybeans and found to my horror they do taste like licorice and nothing like "normal" black ones. My favorites are "normal" black ones and Jelly Belly Hawaiian Punch ones. Although my definition of favorites is "the only ones I actually like". The most vile jelly bean is the white/clear one. Blech.

booklover
02-03-2003, 11:09 AM
I love black jelly beans, but not black licorice. I prefer Jelly Belly licorice to the regular black jelly beans, although that could be because I'm a Jelly Belly snob.

There is one flavor of Jelly Belly that is the most vile thing on earth--my entire family has decided that it tastes like used kitty litter; we have no idea what it's supposed to be.

voguevixen
02-03-2003, 11:25 AM
Originally posted by GuanoLad
Are you talking about Aniseed? America doesn't have aniseed sweets?

Wow, you licorice (liquorice) lovers would like that, but the haters would throw up :)

To my knowledge the only specificly anise flavored candy in the US is the grey Necco wafer (the dark grey in the package is clove, as I understand it.) Both are divine, but as with the black jellybean, they are equally despised among some.

I'm curious to know if the sour candy phenemonon has caught on as much in other countries as it has here in the states. (For those who might not know, it's regular candy -- usually of a "gummi" or chewy nature that has about twice as much citric acid in it, so it makes your face spasm and eats away half the skin inside your mouth. Mmmm, mmm! That's good eatin'!)

For the record:

Black Jelly Beans - yum!
Popcorn Jelly Bellys - BARF!
Black Jelly Bellys - don't think I've had one!
Best Jelly Belly - The Sassy Sour line, especially the Cherry.

NurseCarmen
02-03-2003, 12:07 PM
I'm the youngest in my family (by a poultry 6 minutes) and am the only one who even had a partial taste for black jelly beans as a child. Every Easter, I could amass huge amounts of jelly beans by trading at a 10:1 ratio or more. I came to love the things. My older siblings thought they were screwing me over, when I was the one feeding a growing addiction. I love them. I'll eat them till my mouth looks like something from a horror film.

Feynn
02-03-2003, 12:10 PM
Sometimes I feel like Cliff Clavin...

Did you know that licorice contains glycyrrhizin, a substance that is actually 50 times sweeter than sugar. If you have ever bought licorice root you'll find that besides being woody in texture, it is very sweet.

Black jelly beans and most licorice candies aren't actually flavoured as much with licorice as they are with anise. In many countries licorice is used for it's medicinal properties rather than as a flavouring. Licorice is also used extensively to flavour tobacco.

I love the flavour of licorice, anise, and fennel and should I eat a few black jellybeans I know that Lola won't come within ten feet of me as she hates them with the burning passion of a thousand suns.

Even better are the licorice or anise candies that are made overseas; I used to buy these candies at Ikea that were like smarties except that instead of a candy coated chocolate the outer shell was licorice. I believe they are made by Cloetta and if you don't like the licorice covered chocolates they make mocha covered chocolates as well. They are difficult to find here and ordering online seems the only way to get them.

I also will buy Dutch salted licorice whenever I have the opportunity, I find it's delightful while I know the kids won't be raiding dad's stash of disgusting sweets.

Popcorn flavoured jellybeans are the work of satan... they're akin to eating sweetened day old grease. BLECH!

Yorikke
02-03-2003, 01:23 PM
Originally posted by yBeayf
I admit it! I'm one of the people who are causing the popcorn jelly beans to be so popular. They are by far my favorite flavor of jellybean. I'm the only one I know who likes them, though, so whenever I'm in a group of people eating Jellybellys I get all the popcorn ones.

I worked for years in a video store which also sold "gourmet" lollipops - uncommon flavors, all-natural ingredients, blah blah. Of the approximately 40 flavors, by FAR the least popular was buttered popcorn. Licorice flavor was not particularly popular, but then we only received a few of either flavor per bag. The licorice lingered, but sold. If we let the display clear out, there would invariably be 4 buttered popcorn left after even the nasty peanut butter ones sold. I love peanut butter (the actual product), and I sort of like buttered popcorn-flavored jelly bellies, but the lollies were simply heinous...

hrh

knock knock
02-03-2003, 05:48 PM
Another vote against the black jelly bellys. I don't like anise in any form. I also don't particularly care for buttered popcorn, and cherry is ok. Out of the jelly belly flavors, I usually end up giving away most of my buttered popcorn, coconut, jalapeno, lemon, licorice, margarita, and pink grapefruit. 7 out of 40 is a lot, but the other ones are good enough to make up for it. Juicy pear is the best. Also good are green apple (esp. with cinnamon), crushed pineapple, chocolate pudding + top banana, watermelon, and root beer.

Does anyone really like the flavor of jalapeno jelly beans?

Angel of the Lord
02-03-2003, 06:48 PM
I love black jellybeans; if a mixture doesn't have them, I won't buy them. I also like cherry, but that's pretty well standard. Anything else is just too sugary. If I get the gourmet ones, I like the chocolate flavored ones best. I used to like the buttered popcorn (back when I was 10 or so), but now find them absolutely revolting.

mangeorge
02-03-2003, 07:15 PM
Oh yeah, mixing jelly bellys. knock knock just reminded me. My granddaughters used to do that. I guess it is/was a "thing".
:)
Peace,
mangeorge

manhattan
02-03-2003, 08:21 PM
Does there remain a General Question here?

Lamia
02-03-2003, 08:46 PM
Originally posted by manhattan
Does there remain a General Question here?

Only if someone has an inside scoop on the jellybean industry, and it doesn't seem that anyone does. If you wanna lock it up, it's fine with me.

mangeorge
02-03-2003, 08:56 PM
I found my Pontefract cakes. All is right with the world. :)

mangeorge
02-03-2003, 09:19 PM
ultrafilter answered the OP. Second reply.
So there, Lamia
;)

Lamia
02-04-2003, 08:32 AM
Originally posted by mangeorge
ultrafilter answered the OP. Second reply.
So there, Lamia
;)

Answered with a reasonable assumption. Not really the same thing as the privledged insider information I dreamed of! :)

BlackKnight
02-04-2003, 08:55 AM
Originally posted by NurseCarmen
I'm the youngest in my family (by a poultry 6 minutes) ...
I've heard of dog years, but chicken minutes? Now I've heard everything!

NurseCarmen
02-04-2003, 10:14 AM
:smack:

Did I really say "poultry"?

:smack:
:smack:
:smack:

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