Quality Control and Raw Ingredients
The process of manufacturing a jelly bean can take up to a week, depending on the manufacturer and the type of jelly bean being made. Candy factories produce thousands of jelly beans a week, but only the beans with the most desired sizes and colors make the cut. Jelly beans also go through various steps before reaching the market.
The process of manufacturing jelly beans begins with the raw ingredients. The most basic ingredients are sugar, corn syrup, and food starch. Other ingredients, such as an emulsifier called lecithin (but only in small doses), anti-foaming agents, beeswax or carnauba wax, salt, and confectioner’s glaze are added. Natural and artificial flavors and colors, such as chocolate, coconut, fruit purees, powders, and juices; peanuts, vanilla, oils, cream, or freeze-dried egg or milk mixtures are also added to the batch in small doses, depending on the flavor being made.
The manufacturing process begins in the factory kitchen where the syrup that will become the center of the jelly bean is made. Sugar and other ingredients are dissolved in large boilers and cooked to the appropriate temperature. Color and flavor are then mixed into the syrup.
Jelly Bean Centers
Once the sugar, color and flavor are mixed, the syrup is ejected into the starch casting. This process creates the center of the jelly bean. Dry corn starch is used to form the shapes. The corn starch is poured into plastic trays, which are then moved to a machine die. The die dents the starch into what will become the shape of the actual jelly bean center. Between 100 and 1,200 containers in the tray are dented, they are then filled with the candy syrup. The trays are cooled in temperature- and humidity-controlled rooms, then dried over night to set. This entire process is done through a mogul machine, which moves the trays along conveyors.
The next day, the cornstarch is removed from the trays. After the beans are given a steam bath of moisture and sprayed with sugar, they are set aside again for another one or two days.
Once the jelly beans’ gummy centers are ready, their outer coatings are prepared. This is called the panning process. Color and flavor, the beans’ protective shells, and glaze are all created during this process. After the centers are removed from the candy trays, they are placed in globe-shaped, hollow pans. At one end of the pan is an opening through which the ingredients for the outer coats will be added. At the other end is a rotating power source that shakes the bean centers at several hundred times per minute. Workers add sugar into the pan’s opening. While the pan rotates, the sugar is mixed and hardened into a shell around the gummy centers. Colors and flavors are added during this process through a beaker. While the beans are still rotating in the pan, a confectioner’s glaze is added. The glazing process takes two to four days and gives the beans that finished, polished look.
Packaging jelly beans also requires a great deal of time and care for quality control. The beans are placed in trays and separated by color or flavor. The trays are then tossed into a large, rotating bin, which picks out the most desirable beans. Beans that are too small or too large either fall through openings in a grid or get stuck in the bin’s mesh, while beans that have the right shape and size continue to rotate in the bin. These fall onto a conveyor belt and then undergo another process of inspection by individual workers who remove candies that are misshapen or imperfect. The desirable beans are then weighed and bagged for packaging.