Jelly beans are one of the most popular Easter candies, and they’re a tasty treat year-round. Jelly Belly certainly keeps up with the demand, making a whopping 347 beans every second. Despite that high production, it’s not a quick process from start to finish. In fact, it takes a week or two to make a single bean.
Jelly Belly beans start with cornstarch, sugar, corn syrup, water and flavoring all cooked together, according to a factory tour from Refinery29. That mixture is then poured into bean-shaped, cornstarch-coated molds, where they sit overnight to harden, creating their distinctive chewy texture. The next day, they’ll be steamed to make them sticky before getting misted with sugar. Then they rest again, so they can dry.
“Part of what takes so long is that the candy rests a lot in between the steps,” says Lisa Rowland Brasher, president and CEO of Jelly Belly. “Sometimes it’s for a day; other times it’s for several days; it depends on the flavor.” Sour flavors tend to take the longest because they need more time to rest in between steps, she says.
Next, it’s time to give the jelly beans their shiny, hard coating during a process called panning, which takes the longest in terms of hands-on time, says Rowland Brasher. While pans keep the beans constantly moving, candy makers slowly add sugar and flavoring for about two hours to build up that tasty coating. “You can’t just set a timer for this part,” says Rowland Brasher. “Jelly Belly candy makers are using their eyes, ears and sense of touch to determine when to add the next ingredient, or else the jelly beans will lose their shape or clump together.”
Finally, the beans are given an extra layer of glaze to make them smooth and shiny, then they’re stamped with the Jelly Belly logo. Once they’re ready to go, all the flavors go on a belt and put into packages, ready for eating—a week or two after the process started. “A lot of people are surprised to learn that these steps aren’t all done in a day,” says Rowland Brasher. Want to learn more? Book a tour at Jelly Belly or one of these 16 other candy factories you can actually visit.