Jelly Babies have been around forever in Britain but have never really made it in the US, so I was a bit surprised to find this bag in my local store. Apparently Jelly Babies are made by several different companies, but this one — Bassetts– is the original that has been around since 1919.
The first thing that strikes me as I open the bag is that the little babies are covered in a white powdery substance. This makes them look old-fashioned and quaint, like some sort of Turkish Delight. I tried to make Turkish Delight once when I was a kid (after reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, of course) but it was not a big hit.
You would expect the powder on the surface to be sweet powered sugar, but it’s actually some sort of tasteless corn starch. I suppose it is just there to dry up the surface, and prevent the babies from sticking to each other. The centers of the candies are pretty soft jelly, while the surface is much harder and a bit crumbly. They are dangerously fast and easy to chew, and you can easily finish half a bag without even realizing it.
The Jelly Babies are made with natural colors and flavors, and they come in six different variations. Each color baby has a different shape and they have their own individual names.
|Brilliant – Strawberry 3/5
The strawberry taste is very faint. These mostly taste generically sweet. Not bad, but not outstanding, either.
|Bubbles – Lemon 4/5
The lemon flavor is fairly pronounced, but not so strong as to make these taste sour. Very yummy.
|Boofuls – Lime 3/5
It’s a bit disappointing that Boofuls (what kind of name is that anyway?) is lime flavored and not green apple, especially when there is also a lemon and orange flavored baby in the bag. The taste is pleasant enough, though.
|Big Heart – Blackcurrant 4/5
Black Currant is a flavor not often found in candies here in the US. It’s a very distinct flavor, and I like it. I do remember bringing a bag of Bassett’s Winegums to work after a trip to Europe and seeing someone spit the black winegum in the trash. I guess it’s an acquired taste. “It’s not horrible, at least” was my wife’s verdict. I think she was a bit alarmed by the black color, which usually means licorice flavor in American candy.
|Bumper – Orange 2/5
Again, a pretty mild orange flavor, it tastes ok, but not my favorite. It has some slightly bigger after-taste that I don’t care much for.
|Baby Bonny – Raspberry 5/5
Mmmm, this is definitely my favorite. I would not have guessed it, as I am usually neutral on raspberry flavored candies, but these taste good. The raspberry flavor is not very strong, but just enough to make it taste like something other than just sweet.
Conclusion: You can see why these have been a bestseller in Britain for almost a hundred years. They are very flavorful and fun to eat. I paid $3.99 for a 7.58oz bag, which is outrageously overpriced. But maybe that will change as Cadbury (who owns Bassett) was recently purchased by Kraft. At least one can hope that they would want to introduce a classic candy like the Jelly Babies to the American market. If you find a bag in the store, I would definitely recommend that you give them a try, especially if the bag is less than what I paid for mine.