This little (4.7-ounce) bag of Jelly Belly jelly beans caught my eye the last time I was in a Dollar Tree store. I wanted to pick up something that the gummi-loving Donald might also enjoy, and while jelly beans aren’t gummis, they are at least related.
Besides, I was curious; I’m not generally a huge jelly bean fan, but of course I’d heard of Jelly Belly– the “gourmet” jelly bean. For a dollar, why not?
The bag is very colorful, featuring the Jelly Belly jelly bean mascot doing a, well, a belly flop into a heap of deformed jelly beans. (No wonder it grabbed my attention.)
If the name of the candy isn’t clear enough, turn the bag over. From the text on the back, we learn the following:
“They aren’t available very often, but when they are… Jelly Belly fans love to snap up our famous BELLY FLOPS. These special beans taste great, but don’t quite meet all of our demanding standards for size, color, shape and flavor.”
You tear open the bag, pour a few out into a dish… and yes, there are a few oddly-shaped beans. Mostly they’re just two beans– always of the same flavor– that got stuck together. (Siamese beans, if you will.)
However, that leaves you wondering about all those other beans. The ones that look pretty normal from the outside. Are they the ones that didn’t meet Jelly Belly’s “demanding standards” in the flavor department?
We’re not sure what was wrong with them (very slightly not the right shape/size?), but they tasted fine to us.
None of the beans had the Jelly Belly “stamp”. I guess that’s some sort of stamp of approval that comes after the rigorous sorting process. (I wonder if there are specially trained people at the Jelly Belly Factory who pick out the inferior beans or if it’s all automated…)
One downside of Jelly Belly beans– flops or not– seems to be the very thing that sets them apart. That would be the range of flavors. When you have so many flavors, there are sure to be hits and misses. Donald hates the coconut. I’m not especially fond of cinnamon-flavored beans. Neither of us cared much for the ones that tasted like buttered popcorn. (Blech! But then again, neither of us like movie popcorn with that heavy butter. If you love buttery movie popcorn, this might be a dream come true for you.)
Also, it can be difficult (especially for the uninitiated) to tell what flavor a bean is before eating it. I thought I was getting cherry (one of my favorites), but it turned out to be the dreaded cinnamon. I chomped down on a yellow-green bean, expecting sour apple, and was startled by lime. I don’t even dislike lime– but when you’re expecting apple and get lime, it’s not necessarily a pleasant surprise.
That said, our little bag had a decent assortment of flavors. If you buy them in person, you can peek through the clear window in the bag to make sure you’re not getting tons of licorice, for instance. (Unless you’re one of those weirdos who actually like licorice, that is.)
So, my verdict? I thought they were alright, but since I’m not a serious jelly bean lover, I’d probably rather spend my money and calories on something different, next time, now that my curiosity’s been sated. However, for someone who’s partial to very flavorful jelly beans– particularly the Jelly Belly brand beans– these Belly Flops are a good deal. (They’re also gluten-free and made in a peanut-free facility!)