The Science Behind The World's Most Vomitous Jelly Bean Flavors

Harry Potter is the reason Jelly Belly started making its beans in flavors like vomit, earthworm, and rotten egg. Given the candy’s literary origins, fictional creator Bertie Bott would presumably be especially proud of the new “Stinky Socks” variety. But how do you craft a flavor based on something that isn’t edible?

As you might suspect, smell plays a huge part. According to an interview with company spokesperson Jana Sanders Perry:

Jelly Belly’s first step in creating a jelly bean involves analyzing the real thing in a gas chromatograph. The machine converts the target object into vapors in an oven (either after dissolving it in a solvent and then boiling it or simply by heating it), and then analyzes the chemical makeup of those vapors and converts them to flavor markers, which is what Jelly Belly’s team uses as a starting point for its beans.


Ergo, Stinky Socks required the real thing. And the real thing is exactly what they used: The pungent efforts of the scientist who was working on the project. The resulting artificial approximation was so rank, it ended up clinging to her and her clothing, including a pair of leather boots that were permanently doomed to smell like a locker room.

“It’s the only time I’ve heard of one of the flavors causing such extreme ruin,” Sanders Perry said, adding the flavor was soon “refined” to be “less potent,” presumably so that every single bean in the bag wouldn’t taste like toe cheese (although it’s worth noting the company also produces a flavor modeled after “Moldy Cheese”).

As yet, there’s no scientific explanation as to why anyone would want to willingly taste musty socks, overripe cheese, or vomit (note: since one’s apparently not enough, there’s also separate flavor called “Barf”), though even Dumbledore was curious enough to tempt fate and find out.

[Via Mental Floss]


Share This Story

Get our newsletter