Ever wondered what's in a barf-flavored Jelly Belly?

My son bought a Costco-sized bag of Jelly Bellys to eat on his recent road trip home, but by the time he arrived, he vowed never to eat another Jelly Belly again because he had overindulged during the six-hour drive. So when he set off to drive back to his apartment, he left the rest of the giant bag with me. No worries, I thought, I don't really like Jelly Bellys. Turns out those were famous last words because I decided to try a few, and now I can't stop eating them. I, too, now vow never to buy another bag after I polish this one off!

The ones I'm eating are the yummy ones, though. I don't think I'd have this problem if the bag were filled with the "barf" flavor beans, which I've, thankfully, only ever eaten when playing the "BeanBoozled" naughty or nice game, which also contains other gross flavors like stink bug, liver and onions, rotten egg, toothpaste, dirty dishwater, booger, old bandage, stinky socks, and dead fish. Yuck.

If you've ever wondered what goes into the barf flavor, this ten-minute video from Weird History Food is for you. It first provides a bit of the history of the company. Did you know that "Jelly Belly" was named after blues musician Lead Belly? Or that the original eight flavors were cream soda, grape, green apple, lemon, licorice, root beer, tangerine, and very cherry? The video also discusses Ronald Reagan's love of the bean, which helped popularize them across the United States. For his 1981 Presidential Inauguration, Reagan shipped in 7000 pounds of Jelly Bellys! And by the end of his presidency, the company had shipped him 3.5 tons of the sweet snack! 

Jelly Belly began creating less-than-delicious flavored beans (i.e. the "weird, wild, and gross" flavors) starting in 2000 with their real-world version of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, featured in the Harry Potter franchise and starring flavors such as black pepper, ear wax, and dirt. Further capitalizing upon the public's apparent desire for disgusting flavors, the company created "BeanBoozled," a game where you never know whether you'll be choosing a delicious flavor or its foul doppelganger. 

How do they make these yucky flavors? The video describes the process of extracting scents from substances using a gas chromatograph that vaporizes the substance in question (think an actual dirty sock!), analyzes those vapors, and then converts them from scents into flavor markers. Once the offending bean is made, they are tested and then tweaked if necessary until the disgusting flavor is perfected.  

So how was the barf flavor created? Well, thankfully, nobody had to put vomit into a gas chromatograph. Instead, the candy engineers were attempting to make a bean that tasted like pizza, but the tasters all thought that the 'cheese' part of the pizza bean tasted like vomit, and, voila! The barf bean was born!

The company currently makes over 100 beans, and the most popular flavor has remained "Very Cherry" since 2003. As we've reported before, the company makes 1,680 beans every second, and they sell about 15 billion beans a year!

Now, excuse me while I swallow my dignity and finish off this cursed bag of Jelly Bellys.