Jelly Bean Taste Test

by Carolina Santos-Neves,

According to the National Confectioners Association, Americans consume approximately 16 billion jelly beans at Easter time. So even if you're not a fan-and we don't believe people like that really exist-Easter seems to trigger the sweet tooth in everyone. Not that it's easily escaped, as everywhere you look, there seems to be a ceramic bowl filled with pastel-colored candies just waiting to be devoured. To make certain those bowls are filled with only the best jelly beans, we tasted 17 brands, ensuring that your (and our) sugar highs and dental indiscretions are worth it.

Related: The Epicurious Guide to Easter

We split our taste test into two categories: classic (or an equivalent standard variety) and sour. Read below to find out which two we would indulge in again and again and share with friends.

Best Classic Jelly Beans

Life Saver Jelly Beans
($2.28 for a 14-ounce bag)
Pros: These jelly beans were liked for their crunchy, shiny shell and their not-too-sweet chewy candy. "This was the first time I didn't want to pick out just one color-each bean is bursting with flavor!" stated one judge.

Cons: Doesn't include licorice flavor.

Best Sour Jelly Beans

Sour Patch Jelly Beans
($3.99 for a 13-ounce bag)
Pros: The editors were intrigued by these beans' unique opaque sugar coating. But what really delighted the panel was the way the tangy flavor eventually sweetened up the longer a bean was chewed. "I don't normally love sour anything, but these were perfect for amateurs like me," said one taster.

Cons: Taste buds get somewhat sensitive and tingly after eating too many.

See also: Easter Baskets for Food Lovers

Additional Taste Test Details

The 17 varieties of jelly beans we tasted are available nationwide in supermarkets or online. They include the following, listed from highest to lowest score achieved (the two with asterisks received the same rating): Life Saver, Sour Patch, See's, Jelly Belly 30 Flavors, Brach's Jelly Bird,* Jelly Belly Sours,* Just Born, WarHeads, Lemonhead & Friends, Stop & Shop, Starburst Sour, Brach's Hawaiian Punch, Gimbal's Gourmet, Mike and Ike Fruit Flavored, Jolly Rancher Original Flavors, Nickelodeon Fruit Flavored, Sweet Time.

Methodology: In a blind taste test, judges compared the flavor, consistency, and appearance of 17 types of jelly beans (12 classic, 5 sour). We ranked them according to the Epicurious four-fork rating system (four being best).

Prices and availability subject to change.

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