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Easter's iconic candy comes in many flavors

By KATHY SAUNDERS
Published April 5, 2006


They aren't beans and they are more sugar than jelly, but the jelly bean reigns supreme when it comes to Easter candy.

Taster's Choice panelists were sugar-shocked by the time they finished sampling 11 varieties of the treats. We tasted only plain fruit-flavored jelly beans - not the spicy ones I noticed at a local pharmacy after the tasting.

Interestingly, the bean that got the most votes was the most unusual of the beans and the one that is available year-round. Jelly Belly ($2.96) beans received 95 out of a possible 100 points from our judges. All four said they would continue to buy these candies.

"These have the coolest, most unusual flavors,'' said one panelist who prefers a "popcorn'' flavored bean to the fruit ones we ate.

"Awesome,'' was the way another judge described the Jelly Belly candies. "These are shiny, fresh and they have great basket or candy jar appeal.''

"The manufacturers have put a lot of research and development into the flavor authenticity of these, and they are worth paying the higher price,'' she added.

"They look like polished rocks,'' said a judge who gave the Jelly Belly candy high marks.

Behind Jelly Belly were jelly beans by Lifesavers ($2.49). Judges gave these 65 points and praised the shiny color, soft and chewy texture and the sugary taste. Some panelists thought the Lifesavers candy was a bit too sweet. But overall, panelists were pleased. They also liked the mini size of the beans.

Jelly beans from Smuckers were the third choice ($2.49). These were extremely flavorful and very chewy. However, a few judges thought the Smuckers beans were more like gumdrops.

One panelist would taste only his favorite red jelly beans. His results were the same as the judges who tasted all colors.

Also tasted were jelly beans from Target ($1.29); Albertsons ($1.50); Brach's ($1.99); Starburst ($1.99); Jolly Rancher ($2.99); Russell Stover ($2.49); Assorted Jelly Beans from CVS (77-cents) and Just Born beans ($2.25).

Panelists were Nan Jensen, registered dietitian with Pinellas County Cooperative Extension; Jim Yockey, aesthetician with Indulgence Medical Day Spa in St. Petersburg; former food broker Susa Hanks and personal chef Kay Studer. All foods were tasted blind.

RANKINGS

No. 1: Jelly Belly

No. 2: Lifesavers

No. 3: Smuckers