By now, most of us have heard of Michael Pollan's food credo: "Eat food, not much, mainly plants." This is excellent advice, and except for the occasional slip-up, my family tends to adhere to it. Tonight, I made cauliflower curry with red lentils, which we ate with a side of salad. I think Pollan knows what he's talking about, particularly, with the part about eating food, because I ate some barbecue Pringles over the weekend and my body was not happy about.
But. Let's pause for a second here and contemplate what I consider to be a work of art in the "food-like substance" category: The Jelly Belly. So smooth and colorful, they are like tiny jewels that unlike M & Ms, will actually not melt in your hand. Texturally, they are simultaneously hard and chewy, clearly a triumph of modern chemical processing.
And then there's the flavor. This is where Jelly Bellies really distinguish themselves from the jelly bean competition. From plain old cherry to cheesecake to my favorite, juicy pear, they manage to capture a complete flavor experience in such a tiny bean. There is nothing quite so nasty as accidentally biting into a buttered popcorn Jelly Belly, but it's not because it doesn't taste like popcorn - it's because it does.
Growing up, a favorite activity of my sister's and mine was to visit Treats 'n' More, the candy store at the mall, that had 30 or more individual bins of Jelly Bellies, each with a different flavor. We would traverse the store, each with our own set of tongs and plastic bag, and carefully select two or three of each of our favorite bean. This way, we could avoid the treacheries of the peanut butter or black licorice flavor and my parents could kill an hour or so on a rainy day.
I do think that the Harry Potter Jelly Bellies may have taken things a step too far (I never made it past Black Pepper), but that may just be because by the time the booger and other flavors came out, I was too old to really appreciate them. I enjoy Jelly Bellies to this day, though. I often find myself unable to resist their aesthetic appeal as I stand in the TJMaxx check out line. I usually opt for the "soda shop" variety pack because just as in my days of choosing my flavors by hand, there is absolutely no chance mistakenly eating the black licorice flavor.