Friday, May 7, 2010

Trader Joe’s Jelly Beans & Citrus Gum Drops

Trader Joe's Jelly BeansTrader Joe’s is getting its “summer candy” on the shelves. Summer candy is usually sugar candy, or candy that bears the heat well. The great thing about summer candy is that it often reflects the taste of summer fruits.

One product is Trader Joe’s Gourmet Jelly Beans in 18 natural flavors. The jelly beans are even naturally colored with vegetable and fruit sources. (They’re not quite vegan though, since they use beeswax for the final polish.)

At first I thought that they might be actual Jelly Belly, but without the Jelly Belly stamp. But then I thought maybe they were Marich, who makes Green Beans for Whole Foods. Then flipping over the box I saw that they’re made in Ireland ... which really doesn’t make much sense to me because there are so many great jelly bean makers here in California.

Trader Joe's Jelly Beans

The flavor mix is almost all fruits, except for liquorice, which is really essential for any mix. The box is a nice size at 5 ounces and $1.99 they’re cheaper than Jelly Belly ($6.40 a pound versus about $9 a pound for most Jelly Belly).

Trader Joe's Jelly Beans
(The photos don’t match up with the flavor review ... they’re just illustrative.)

The citrus flavors included: Lemon, Lemon & Lime, Tangerine and Pink Grapefruit. All were sunny and zesty, though sweeter and not as intense as Jelly Belly. The zest was a little uneven as well, some were rather bitter from the peel oils but the same flavor another time wasn’t at all.

The berry flavors included: Strawberry Smoothie, Strawberry, Blueberry, Raspberry and Blackberry. These flavors had good combinations of both tartness, sweetness and the fragrant floral notes that accompany berries. I liked the raspberry quite a bit, it wasn’t quite jammy but still the best rounded (and possibly the most ubiquitous flavor in my box) but on the other end blueberry was completely lacking in any flavor at all.

Traditional fruits were Cherry, Apple and Grape.

Cherry was weird, in fact, I wasn’t sure for a while that it was the cherry, but process of elimination meant that it couldn’t be anything other.

Apple was dark green, not the light green shown on the package. It’s mild but convincing.

I can’t say that I remember eating the grape.

Trader Joe's Jelly Beans
(The photos don’t match up with the flavor review ... they’re just illustrative.)

Exotics were Banana Split, Coconut, Mango, Passion Fruit, Liquorice and Pomegranate.

Coconut was watery and sweet but still had a “coconut flavor” to it. I didn’t care much for it on its own but combined with other flavors like pomegranate or banana split it was a nice pop.

Pomegranate was sweet and a bit like cotton candy and raspberry.

I was quite fond of Liquorice, mostly because it was the first all natural licorice jelly bean that I think I’ve had. It had all the anise and licorice flavor - very sweet but a balanced woodsy and spicy character - but didn’t have any of the food coloring bitterness.

Mango was like peach for me, a little too much like the peel (or fuzz in the case of peaches) and not enough of the luscious tangy and custardy flesh.

Passion Fruit was similar to mango in that it didn’t quite get the fresh fruit for me, but it was a good mix of sweetness and toasted sugar flavors.

I loved Banana Split. It was sweet but still a good rounded banana flavor that made it taste creamy.

The texture overall is firmer than Jelly Belly and other gourmet beans. They’re smooth and very well made but chewy. Some folks may prefer that texture but I thought they were lacking punch and many didn’t taste different enough to warrant 18 flavors over 12 or 8.

Trader Joe's Citrus Gum DropsThe more exciting product for me was the new Citrus Gum Drops which feature my favorite flavor genre. Tangerine, Key Lime, Pink Grapefruit and Lemon.

Like the Jelly Beans, these are all natural and vegan. They’re also Kosher.

They’re also a better value, at 8 ounces for the same $1.99 price tag. I was hoping they’d be as good as the Starbucks teensy gum drops or the comparably priced but huge Whole Foods Gourmet Gum Drops.

Trader Joe's Citrus Gum Drops

The gum drops fit right in as gum drop sized. Like a thimble of firm jelly candy. The sugar sanding is fine grained and stuck well, so there’s not a lot of dust.

Trader Joe's Citrus GumdropsLemon - spectacularly well rounded, more like a marmalade than lemonade. Very zesty and only lightly tangy. The citrus oils are very pronounced and have a bitter aftertaste that I love until I’m done eating them and I have a bit of a burning tongue.

Pink Grapefruit - I had high hopes for these but they were a bit blander than I’d hoped. They’re more about the juice flavors than the peel. So they’re not bitter but just lacking a well rounded citrus punch but did have a bit of a caramelized sugar/honey smoothness.

Key Lime is subtle and quietly peppery. A little tangy and zesty but much deeper than the usual lime.

Tangerine - it says tangerine but it tastes simply like orange, perhaps even like Tang. Sweet and juicy, but not zesty or tart.

The gum drops were so well suited to my preferences, it’s like Trader Joe’s has been reading the blog. I liked the size and of course the price was great for a premium item. They’re not pate de fruits but they’re more vibrant than Dots.

Related Candies

  1. Wonka Exceptionals Fruit Jellies: Grapefruit, Goji Berry & Red Apple
  2. Tootsie Sour Dots
  3. Gourmet Gumdrops
  4. Harry & David Fall Leaves Fruit Gels
  5. Organic Zootons

Name: Gourmet Jelly Beans 18 Flavors
Brand: Trader Joe’s
Place Purchased: Trader Joe's (Silver Lake)
Price: $1.99
Size: 5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 106
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Trader Joe's, Jelly Candy, 6-Tempting

Name: Citrus Gum Drops
Brand: Trader Joe’s
Place Purchased: Trader Joe's (Silver Lake)
Price: $1.99
Size: 8 ounces
Calories per ounce: 102
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Trader Joe's, Jelly Candy, Kosher, 8-Tasty, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 4:00 pm Tracker Pixel for Entry     All NaturalCandyTrader Joe'sJelly CandyKosher6-Tempting8-TastyUnited States

  1. good to know. wanted to try the gumdrops, but was unsure.

    Comment by vanillasugar on 5/07/10 at 5:56 pm #
  2. I really liked the jelly beans! Except licorice, which I loathe, and was happy to give away to coworkers. The coconut was delicious to me, though definitely more like sweetened coconut than natural. And the banana tasted like actual banana and not banana flavor, which was amazing and surprising.

    Have you tried their taffy? The red licorice flavor tastes just like red licorice to me. So good.

    Comment by maria on 5/07/10 at 6:38 pm #
  3. I’m intrigued! I’m definitely going to have to check these out next time I’m in a city with a TJ’s.

    Comment by delia on 5/07/10 at 8:23 pm #
  4. I enjoy the Trader Joe beans, each flavor was delicious. However the box is a horrible reference when trying to figure out what flavor I am eating. Sometimes the flavor, while good, doesn’t match an actual fruit for me. I also noticed a few inconsistencies in texture. I’ve still bought them twice so far and will gladly buy them again smile

    Comment by Heather on 5/07/10 at 9:38 pm #
  5. Cybele, it didn’t say which Irish company made the beans (Our native “Jelly Bean Factory” brand markets themselves as being “natural” - see here Because I’m from Ireland, and it really surprises me that an American food store is outsourcing foods from Ireland, although it is Trader Joe’s, and having been to one in Brooklyn before I realise they’re into that sort of thing.

    The main reason I ask is because the vast majority of our candy (called “sweets” here, whether chocolate or otherwise) is actually imported from the UK. You’ll only really find smaller Irish companies who make candy, and when they do, their products will only be found in small amounts and in few stores. Of course there are a few outliers, but this is the case for the majority of the time.

    Comment by Brian on 5/08/10 at 8:47 am #
  6. I tried both of these. I thought they were both good… but not great. When I saw the jelly beans, I was hoping they’d be the Surf Sweets ones. And I also was expecting more of the grapefruit gum drop.

    Comment by Karen on 5/09/10 at 4:36 pm #
  7. Have you tried their salt water taffy? It came out recently. I gave my boyfriend a blind taste test of them, and he said they all tasted the same. I agreed, with the exception of 1 flavor. :/

    Comment by Amanda on 5/10/10 at 3:42 pm #
  8. Are the jelly beans manufactured on machinery that uses or touches peanuts?  My family is extremely allergic to peanuts, and it would be great if I can get them uncontaminated jelly beans.

    Comment by Harvey on 11/17/11 at 5:11 pm #
  9. The Trader Joe’s beans look to be the same as the beans from Jelly Bean Factory, run by Aran Candy notes they are gelatin-free, gluten-free, nut-free.  They are vegetarian and also Halal.

    The answer to Harvey’s question is a very likely yes, depending on whether Aran Candy packages the TJ’s-labeled products on site or sends bulk beans elsewhere.

    Comment by Colleen on 4/18/12 at 1:04 am #
  10. I am not a candy person especially jelly beans.i cannot stay away from the TJ beans   The best thing ever. I drive two hours to stock up. Give them to my friends for birthday cards and then I have to take orders-.  Flavors so intense and real   Delicious!  I don’t agree with reviewer. Please don’t change a thing

    Comment by Mary Middlemas on 9/13/14 at 7:03 pm #
  11. I really love their Gourmet Jelly Beans! And every Easter I get me at least one box! If I was more of a jelly bean eater, I’d get them more often, but I am more of a chocolate/chocolate confection indulger :-D

    Comment by Janice Marie Foote on 3/04/15 at 3:50 pm #
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