Jelly beans are a type of candy popular throughout the world. They are believed to be derived from the Middle-Eastern confection Turkish delight and have been popular in the United States since at least the mid-19th century.
There are two major styles of jelly bean. The first, commonly known as traditional, almost always has flavor only in its hard shell. The second style, the gourmet jelly bean, is flavored both on the inside and the shell. The process of creating the two different types of candy is nearly identical. For both, the center is created first by boiling a mixture of sugar, corn syrup, and flavoring in the case of the gourmet kind. This mixture is then injected into cornstarch molds and left to dry overnight. The resulting shape is misted with sugar to create the inside.
The candy's outer layer is added by a process known as panning. The inside is placed in a large rotating drum and sugar is added slowly to form a hard layer. This layer is flavored, colored, and finally sprayed with confectioner's glaze and polished to a shine.
The largest manufacturer of jelly beans world-wide is the Jelly Belly company. They have fifty official flavors, along with special flavors for various events. Originally, Jelly Belly had only eight flavors: Cream Soda, Tangerine, Licorice, Grape, Green Apple, Root Beer, Very Cherry, and Lemon. One of today's official flavors, Blueberry, was created so Ronald Regan could serve red, white and blue candies!
While there are a number of specialty flavors, the most popular to date have been those inspired by the Harry Potter novels. These jelly beans, known as Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, are made by Jelly Belly and include several joke flavors, including: Earwax, Booger, Bacon, Black Pepper, Vomit, Dirt, Soap, Rotten Egg, Grass, and Earthworm.
Other companies make candies in a similar style to Jelly Belly, and a number of other specialized jelly beans exist. Sugar-free jelly beans are made for diabetics and others avoiding sugar in their diet. Vegan candies do not include the beeswax derivative used in most other jelly beans. All told, there are hundreds of different jelly beans, but they are all based on the same simple principle of an inner segment similar to Turkish delight with a shiny outer layer.