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Candy Review: Teenee Beanee Jelly Beans

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Teenee Beanee Jelly Beans

Three years ago, I found myself working as a “Mad Scientist” for a similarly-named company. Donning a white lab coat, goggles and a goofy pseudonym, I traveled far and wide to spread scientific curiosity and slime to as many schools and birthday parties as possible. These “Mad Science” programs had all sorts of themes. They were all interactive, and messy.

One of our most popular themes was “Taste and Smell,” and it wasn’t hard to see why – the “class” involved scented slime and a taste test. The blind, nose plugged taste test was supposed to demonstrate that what we call “taste” is really 80% smell. We used generic jelly beans. The results were undeniable – without their distinctive hues and scents, the flavors couldn’t be distinguished. Grape was identical to lemon!

While taste may be mostly smell (and I’ll admit the two are linked, but I’m skeptical of the 80% figure!), the part that’s not smell makes quite a difference. Especially when it comes to jelly beans. Consider Jelly Belly – even with your nose plugged, there’s no way you’d ever confuse the warmth and mildly salty tone of their Buttered Popcorn flavor with the rich fruitiness of their Strawberry Daquiri. As far as I’m concerned, the beloved little beans have nothing in common with the blandly syrup-flavored variety utilized by Mad Science.

Over the last few years, I’ve noticed a new breed of jelly beans in grocery and drug stores. They look exactly like Jelly Belly beans – super-small jelly beans with more varieties than it’s easy to keep track of. They’re bright, colorful, and have one quality Jelly Belly lacks – cutesy names like Chesapeake Cherry, La Jolla Lemon, and Savannah Strawberry. I’m a sucker for cute names, as well as the Jelly Belly beans to which these bear such a close resemblance. Yet somehow I didn’t try Just Born’s Teenee Beanee Jelly Beans, until I recently saw them in a small variety pack at my local CVS.

As these beans cost only $2.99 for eight ounces, I should have prepared myself for a letdown. Somewhat naively, I expected Teenee Beanees to taste every bit as great as their Jelly Belly rivals. Opening the bag and pouring a few of the Teenees into my hand, the outlook was positive. The beans are slightly brighter than Jelly Belly beans, if less glossy. They’re a bit smaller than their counterparts, and have a distinct triangular-prism shape. Each bean smells of its distinct flavor.

Naturally, I was anxious to try. Groping at random, my hand resurfaced with an off-white bean. It reminded me physically of coconut, but smelled more banana-like. According to the twenty-flavor guide on the bag’s back, my nose had led me in the right direction. The bean was “Banana Cream Pie” flavored. That sounded really good, so I was disappointed to find a lack of banana taste – or creaminess, or pie-ishness for that matter! The bean was well-scented sugar.

I am not one to give up easily, though, especially where candy is concerned. I really wanted to give Teenee Beanees a fair chance. They had such a variety of flavors – it would be a shame to judge them after tasting only one. The next bean I extracted was jet-black – licorice. I’m not a huge licorice fan, but something told me this would be a stronger flavor. But once again, beyond scent, there was nothing but sweetness. So far, these beans were displaying Mad Science Bean Syndrome.

This factor didn’t disappoint me too much when the flavor in question was licorice, but when sampling the Strawberry Cheesecake flavor – two of my favorite tastes, combined into one candy which ought to be divine – yielded only slightly better results, my patience began to wear thin. I dutifully gave each flavor a try, and was pretty uniformly disappointed in turn.

The only beans which really had their own tastes, independent of scent, were the citrus flavors – La Jolla Lemon, Laredo Lime, and Indian River Orange. Granted, they didn’t really have much flavor of their own. But they offered the only bits of semi-precious redemption in what was basically a candy coal mine.

Needless to say, I was not impressed with Teenee Beanee Jelly Beans. A candy touting itself as “gourmet” ought to be able to back its claim with top ingredients and flavor, flavor, flavor! These are nothing but glorified versions of tasteless generics. For now, Jelly Belly has nothing to worry about!

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2 Responses to “Candy Review: Teenee Beanee Jelly Beans”

  1. 1
    Lisa Creech Bledsoe says:

    Boo hiss. That’s so disappointing! Why on earth did they ever even make a run against so many other similar brands that DO deliver? Too bad for them.

  2. 2
    RachelR says:

    I’m sorry, I guess I was a bit harsh on the Teenees. I certainly wasn’t saying they shouldn’t try to compete against all the other brands! They deserve a chance, like every bean! Personally, I just didn’t find them that great.

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