It’s a question that’s flustered candy connoisseurs for years now: How does Jelly Bell know what earwax tastes like? That is, assuming the company hasn’t actually conducted conscious and scientific finger-in-ear-then-in-mouth taste tests while formulating its bizarrely flavored BeanBoozled and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. Some of the company’s bizarre flavors—vomit, sausage, soap—could have come from experience, but earthworm? Rotten egg? What sane person would volunteer to spend hours if not weeks formulating those taste sensations?
Thankfully, Mental Floss has the answer. Just in time for Easter, the site talked to a Jelly Belly spokesperson about the company’s formulations, and the process is fascinating. For instance, the company’s Jana Sanders Perry says both “the Vomit in the Bertie Bott’s and Barf in BeanBoozled lines were born from the humble attempt to make a pizza-flavored jelly bean,” something the company shelved after it couldn’t nail down a way to replicate cheese. Perry also told Mental Floss that a Jelly Belly scientists used a gas chromatograph to suss out scents for BeanBoozled’s Stinky Socks flavor. The results weren’t ideal, though. As Perry says,
“In the early tests of what became Stinky Socks flavor, the scent permeated everything the scientist wore, even though she was making a very small batch. Usually you can do some laundry and take a shower and all is well, but [her] leather boots took on the scent and would not let it go. It’s the only time I’ve heard of one of the flavors causing such extreme ruin.”