It’s been an early harvest at the Hog House, and all at once I seem to have loads of beans. Not any kind of bean, mind you: the very particular, very delicious sweet kind. Up until now it’s been years since I munched on a packet of Jelly Belly. Perhaps even more than a decade. In the old days, when I was but a wee piglet, they used to be the highlight of our visits to the garden centre. Lord knows why, but garden centres always sell good sweets – something to keep the kiddiwinks busy, I suppose.
These days, as you regular Ogglers all know, I tend to get my kicks from more substantial puddings: doughnuts and cream, boulders of brownie, Kooky slices, and the like. But then I heard something exciting: Jelly Belly were making dessert-flavoured beans. Of course, I considered it my duty to try them (I’ve got to get my five-a-day from somewhere, after all). So try them I did.
It’s weird, eating puddings in bean form – like something from a sci-fi novel, or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for that matter. I tried a whole bunch of them (35 pieces count as a portion), and quickly noticed my brain playing tricks on my tongue. Ostensibly, each bean is made mainly of sugar, glucose syrup and cornstarch, so the textures should all be exactly the same.
Then why did some of them feel so different!?
The Chocolate Pudding flavour was the most convincing – I could practically feel the bubbles of sponge in my mouth. As for Birthday Cake, I could swear the bean carried the texture of just-rolled icing (if not the scent of just-blown pink-striped candle). By the time I moved on to a bean of Juicy Pear – and could feel the skin slip off between my teeth – I was starting think I was having a stroke.
But no. Turns out I’m just suggestible (not to mention a huge hypochondriac).
Even so, the implications are immense. We live in an age of capsule puddings, people: IT’S SCI-FI COME TO LIFE! Apple pie, Chocolate Chunk, Strawberry Sundae, Cheesecake – if you just want a taster you can just bite a bean. A BEAN! There are some things that don’t translate, of course: the crispness of fresh pastry, the filling gloop of custard. But if you can’t get those, these Jelly Bellies make surprisingly convincing substitutes (do NASA send them to space in place of baking equipment? I wonder…*).
Also, considering they don’t contain any gelatin, the Toasted Marshmallow flavoured bean is probably the closest I’ll get to a real marshmallow until I perfect my long -awaited veggie recipe… A concept that’s not to be sniffed at, I say.
Nor is the calorie content. Professional mathematician that I am, I worked out some sums and found that each bean was less than five calories. Five?! I’ve eaten vegetables that were heavier. Mind you, tempted though I am to hail this as the pudding choice for dieters, if it’s a dieting bean you want, it’s probably best to plump for a haricot (also, if it’s a dieting website you’re looking for, the Pud-Hog Blog ain’t really the place for you).
Still, doesn’t hurt though, does it? Birthday Cake, Chocolate Pudding and Apple Pie, for under 20 cals? What the hell: I’ll have mine with a pint of double cream.
[* NOTE: Just after this post was first published, I was sent this message by an all-knowing Jelly Bellyite: apparently, ‘Jelly Belly were the first jelly bean in outer space. Free floating, weightless Jelly Belly jelly beans were sent on the space shuttle Challenger in 1983 as a presidential surprise for the astronauts. Coincidentally it was the same mission that boasted another bit of history — the first American female astronaut, Sally Ride.’
So there you have it. One for next year’s Pud Quiz…]