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It's National Jelly Bean Day — which may seem like a jolly, innocuous holiday — but don't be fooled. It's a highly controversial day, as people are super opinionated about their favorite and least favorite flavors. Some absolutely bonkers people actually enjoy Buttered Popcorn, while others gag at the mere thought of it.
So, to stir up a little controversy, TODAY.com editorial director Meena Duerson, aka my boss, and I decided to spend an hour (at least) ranking all 50 Jelly Belly flavors — which meant tasting, spitting out (hey! sommeliers do it, too!) and generally making ourselves sick. So, even though you won't agree with us (we didn't even agree on all of these), you should probably thank us for sacrificing our taste buds and overall happiness.
What did we learn? The best jelly beans are citrus-flavored and look exactly like what they're going to taste like. Also, jelly beans should never, ever be allowed to imitate anything with dairy. *Chills*
Here's our (read: Meena's) definitive ranking with tasting notes:
50. Buttered Popcorn
No! You can't throw up in here! Go to the bathroom!
49. Caramel Corn
So terrible, the worst, good God these are bad.
48. A&W Root Beer
Tastes like what it is, but I hate root beer.
This is so sad because I love mango. Is that barf? This is a crime against mangoes. Offensive.
Never opt into this color of jelly bean. Yuck.
45. Top Banana
Tasted this after Buttered Popcorn, so in comparison, it's amazing. It's still not good, though.
44. Strawberry Daiquiri
Gets worse the more you chew it. Too sweet. Is now a good time to tell you I don't like jelly beans?
Starts out OK then takes a turn. Awful. Offensive to kiwis. Same genre as Cantaloupe.
Very powerful. Wow. Awful.
Surprisingly not nauseating or as terrible as all the other terrible flavors.
40. Piña Colada
Yellow is always a risk. Awful.
39. Bubble Gum
Tastes like a headache.
38. Tutti Fruitti
Tastes like Bubble Gum but a little better. Not great.
Tastes like cough syrup. Nauseating.
36. Mixed Berry Smoothie
Tastes like it has a gross yogurt coating, like something I'd feed to my baby. Gets worse as you chew.
35. Juicy Pear
Classically bad one. Reminds me of how bad Peach was. Actively bad.
34. Berry Blue
Looks like toothpaste and tastes like Crest Kids toothpaste.
33. French Vanilla
Tastes like a scented candle. Waste of time.
32. Orange Sherbet
It's like a creamsicle, but worse. It's very flat.
31. Strawberry Jam
Fruity, not great, too sweet, like the gum in a Blow Pop.
30. Chocolate Pudding
Tastes like a very bad version of fudge.
29. Green Apple
Doesn't taste like apple or artificial apple. Unclear what that is.
28. Red Apple
Better than Green Apple but not by a lot.
Way too sweet. Yuck.
26. Wild Blackberry
A worse version of blueberry. Bland.
25. Island Punch
Not getting any tropical vibes from this. Is this grape? Pass.
24. A&W Cream Soda
Tastes like what it is, but even sweeter, so I wouldn't eat another one.
23. Lemon Drop
Very accurate. Tastes like the shot. It's a nice citrusy palate cleanser.
22. Very Cherry
Reminds me of a cough lozenge, which I don't mind. Not terrible.
Tastes like artificial purple, definitely doesn't taste like plum.
Dense. Tastes like a crayon.
19. Dr. Pepper
I don't like Dr. Pepper, so I don't think this is very good.
Typically don't like tropical flavors in jelly beans but this isn't bad.
17. Strawberry Cheesecake
Tastes like strawberry yogurt, which is fine, but not great.
16. Crushed Pineapple
A better version of Piña Colada. More refreshing.
15. Sour Cherry
Standard jelly bean fare. Way better than Very Cherry.
Not as bad as I remember it. Tastes like a scented marker smells — which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
13. Cotton Candy
Not bad, though it doesn't taste like cotton candy; it's subtle and not too sweet.
12. Toasted Marshmallow
Don't hate it, surprisingly, tastes like what it is, with a little hint of cotton candy.
11. Sunkist Tangerine
I would like this if I encountered it in the wild, but I've had far too many jelly beans at this point.
10. Sunkist Lemon
More subtle than Lemon Lime but still has a good amount of citrus.
9. Lemon Lime
It's fine, tastes exactly like it's colored, which is ideal for a jelly bean. You don't ever want to be surprised by what you're eating.
7. Sunkist Lime
Exactly what I'd expect it to be.
6. Sunkist Orange
Tastes like the soda, very straightforward, which is the best thing a jelly bean can be.
5. Sunkist Pink Grapefruit
Subtly sweet. Best of the citrus family.
A good baseline for what's good. It's fruity but not too sweet. Refreshing.
3. Chili Mango
So much better than original Mango, way more subtle and complex, with some nice spice.
This is a dream jelly bean. It's like a Hot Tamale.
1. Sizzling Cinnamon
Even more intense version of a Hot Tamale. I like the tingle.