It is believed that jelly beans began to be associated with Easter somewhere around the 1930s. The egg-like structure of jelly beans made a perfect fit with the holiday. Eggs are said to be associated with Easter because they are a symbol of the Resurrection or new life.
While jelly beans are more abundantly available around Easter, they certainly can be purchased any time of year. Here are 12 jelly bean brands for you to enjoy at Easter and beyond.
If you already have a favorite jelly bean brand, please vote for it in the poll at the end of this article.
12 Top Jelly Bean Brands
Brach’s is undoubtedly one of the most popular jelly bean brands in America. The company has been making candy for over 115 years and it’s now owned by the Ferrara Candy Company. Ferrara is owned by the Ferrero Group who is the parent company of many other familiar brands such as Sweetarts, Keebler, Black Forest Gummies, Nerds, and the cookie brand, Famous Amos.
Brach’s calls its jelly beans “Jelly Bird Eggs”. The company makes the following varieties:
- Milk Chocolate Covered
- Rainbow Sparkle
Gimbal’s began in 1898 in San Francisco. The company was initially operated by the founder, Alexander Gimbal. It was later passed down to four generations of the Gimbal family through the years. Gimbal’s jelly beans and Scottie Dog licorice were recently acquired by Jelly Belly, the popular jelly bean brand in America.
The jelly beans made by Gimbal’s include:
- Sour Courmet
- Cherry Lovers Gourmet – Heart Shaped
- Cinnamon Lovers
George J. Howe started a grocery store in 1917 in Grove City, Pennsylvania. In this grocery store, Howe would roast coffee which he would give to customers free of charge if they spent a certain amount in groceries. The coffee became such a hit that Howe shut down the grocery business to concentrate on coffee roasting in 1927.
While the George J. Howe Company still sells coffee today, the company has added several products through the years. These products include nuts, snack mixes, teas, chocolate, and jelly beans (of course).
Howe makes these jelly beans:
- Jumbo Spice
- Jumbo Fruit
- Jumbo Licorice
- Jumbo Cinnamon
Jelly Belly might seem like a relatively new company to many. However, it was founded in 1898 with its first products being mellowcreme candies (candy corn and similar products). It wasn’t until the 1960s that the company began making jelly beans under the business name of Herman Goelitz Candy Company.
Jelly Belly was officially launched in 1976 using the idea of mini jelly beans flavored with natural purees. The original flavors were Watermelon, Very Cherry, Cream Soda, Green Apple, Root Beer, Licorice, Lemon, Tangerine, and Grape. The inventor of Jelly Belly, David Klein, named his jelly beans in part after the folk and blues musician, Lead Belly.
The 50 Jelly Belly official flavors at the time of this article were:
- A&W Cream Soda
- A&W Root Beer
- Berry Blue
- Bubble Gum
- Buttered Popcorn
- Caramel Corn
- Chili Mango
- Chocolate Pudding
- Cotton Candy
- Crushed Pineapple
- Dr Pepper
- French Vanilla
- Green Apple
- Island Punch
- Juicy Pear
- Lemon Drop
- Lemon Lime
- Mixed Berry Smoothie
- Orange Sherbet
- Pina Colada
- Red Apple
- Sizzling Cinnamon
- Sour Cherry
- Strawberry Cheesecake
- Strawberry Daiquiri
- Strawberry Jam
- Sunkist Lemon
- Sunkist Lime
- Sunkist Orange
- Sunkist Pink Grapefruit
- Sunkist Tangerine
- Toasted Marshmallow
- Top Banana
- Very Cherry
- Wild Blackberry
Most people recognize Jolly Rancher for its individually wrapped hard candies. However, this brand, made by Hershey’s, makes several varieties of candies such as gummies, gum, candy canes, bubble gum, and jelly beans. The original Jolly Rancher candies were invented by Bill and Dorothy Harmsen in Colorado. What’s the most popular flavor of Jolly Rancher every? It’s watermelon.
Jolly Rancher jelly beans are available in Original flavors that include strawberry, orange, watermelon, grape, blue raspberry, and green apple.
Just Born was founded in 1923 as a small candy store located in Brooklyn, New York. Through the years, the company has made many iconic candies including Mike and Ike, Hot Tamales, Peeps, and Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews. The company got into the jelly bean business when it acquired the Rodda Candy Company in 1953. Rodda was the previous maker of Peeps but was better known for their jelly beans at the time.
Just Born makes the following jelly bean flavors that are :
The original candy was invented during the 1970s by Kathryn Beich Candies. The company was sold to Nestlé in 1984. Nestlé then sold its confectionery brands (which included Laffy Taffy) to Ferrero in 2018. Ferrero still owns the brand today.
Russell Stover was founded in 1923 with its first product being an ice cream sandwich dipped in chocolate that they called an Eskimo Pie. Competition swarmed in after the success of the ice cream sandwich which forced the company to diversify into boxed chocolates. Today, the company is a subsidiary of Lindt & Sprüngli, the makers of not only Lindt but also Ghirardelli, Cafferel, Hofbauer and Küfferle chocolates.
Russell Stover makes these jelly beans:
- Pectin Jelly Beans
Starburst is a brand of the candy giant, Mars. The brand has been around since 1960 when it was launched in the United Kingdom under the name “Opal Fruits”. The original flavors were strawberry, orange, lemon, and lime. Starburst came to the United States in 1967 and was labeled as M&M’s Fruit Chewies. Its name changed to Starburst toward the end of the 1960s.
Starburst jelly beans were first stocked on store shelves in 1995, according to Snack History. Mars currently lists the Original flavor as the only jelly beans on starburst.com.
Surf Sweets is the jelly bean brand you’ll want to buy if you want better ingredients than the norm. Its jelly beans are made with organic natural flavors. They use plant-based colors which prevents consumers from eating artificial colors or other potentially unwanted ingredients.
Surf Sweets jelly beans are made with organic fruit juice concentrate and 70% organic ingredients. They are free of the most common allergens. Additionally, the jelly beans come in three flavors: orange, cherry, and grape.
You may have to wait for Easter time to find SweeTarts jelly beans. However, it’s worth the wait. They have become one of the favorite brands of jelly beans that feature a sweet and sour taste. These are often selected as an alternative for people that don’t care for traditional tasting jelly beans.
Most of us know Welch’s for its juices, fruit spreads, and fruit snacks. However, the company does make several other products including jelly beans. Technically, Welch’s jelly beans are manufactured by Frankford Candy under a licensing agreement. Welch’s is based out of Concord, Massachusetts, and is owned by the National Grape Cooperative Association.
Poll: Favorite Jelly Bean Brand
Do you have a favorite jelly bean brand? Please vote for it in the poll!