America's Favorite Jelly Bean Flavor May Not Be What You Expect

May  3, 2017

On Monday afternoon, a coworker forwarded me an email about the 2017 Jelly Belly Flavor Battle, a bracketed tournament launched by Jelly Belly on April 22nd, in observance of National Jelly Bean Day. The competition is meant to determine the country’s favorite jelly bean flavor. It’s just reached the final round, and the winner will be revealed later today. The final two contenders are Very Cherry and Buttered Popcorn. Are you as astonished as I am?

“Arizona’s ‘favorite’ jelly bean might be the worst jelly bean,” a brazen headline in an Arizona-based NBC affiliate declared last month. The culprit was—you guessed it—Buttered Popcorn, that gelatinous, pastel yellow candy pellet, its taste resembling a sweetened bag of kernels you’d get at your local AMC. Last month, it was declared the second-most popular jelly bean flavor in the country according to a survey on (seven states declared it their jelly bean of choice), second only to Black Licorice across the country. (Black Licorice, somewhat bewilderingly, lost out to Tutti-Frutti in the first round of the Jelly Belly Flavor Battle.)

In other words, there's certainly a precedent for Buttered Popcorn performing so highly in a showdown like this. But Buttered Popcorn is quite the divisive flavor, inspiring fierce tribalism within our very own editorial team. Some, like my colleague Sarah Jampel, love the Buttered Popcorn jelly bean for its taste and aesthetic (“I think it tastes good,” she explained. “I also like how it looks.” Incredible!). I’m afraid she’s in the minority, though. Most others on our team find this flavor repulsive. Very Cherry, in contrast, hasn’t elicited such revulsion, though another one of my colleagues likened its taste to that of cough syrup. That’s no good.

No word on what time the results will be released today, so vote while you can. Time’s running out, and this is important.

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Cast your vote here. Thoughts on Buttered Popcorn jelly beans? Let us know in the comments.

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Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.


ErinM724 July 3, 2017
Watermelon has always been my favorite, with raspberry close behind.
tracey May 24, 2017
Cinnamon is definitely underrated, its gotta be one of the top 5 flavours.
Jessica H. May 6, 2017
Buttered Popcorn, blerg! I can't believe Toasted Marshmallow didn't go further!
abbyarnold May 4, 2017
I LOVE Very Cherry! When I see the opportunity to buy only those, I do it.
Negative N. May 4, 2017
Jolly Rancher Jelly Beans are the best. Much better than Jelly Belly.
Jessica May 4, 2017
Juicy Pear all the way!
BerryBaby May 3, 2017
Love the berry flavors and pear.
Rhonda35 May 3, 2017
Ugh! I went to the site and Buttered Popcorn won with 60% of the vote. I'm a fan of black licorice, juicy pear, tangerine and coconut. More gross than buttered popcorn flavor? The Harry Potter jelly beans!
Lindsay-Jean H. May 3, 2017
I seriously cannot believe Buttered Popcorn won, it is by far and away my least favorite. Juicy Pear wins the top spot in my book!
Rhonda35 May 3, 2017
I know! I think it was rigged - haha!
E May 3, 2017
Oh noooo! I absolutely love the buttered popcorn jelly bean *face buried in hands* It tastes like fake popcorn from the movie theater crossed with kettle corn to me!
Mayukh S. May 3, 2017
Don't be ashamed!!!
Kenzi W. May 3, 2017
No dice on popcorn for me; truthfully I feel like blueberry is underrepresented.
jfrob May 3, 2017
Juicy pear is my absolute favorite. It's astonishing how much they actually taste like a fresh pear!
Whiteantlers May 3, 2017
I vote 'blech' for Buttered Popcorn flavored jellybeans. Ugh.
Moshee May 3, 2017
Just had this discussion on Sunday - buttered popcorn YUCK! Tutti Frutti is obviously the best Jelly Belly, but anything cherry flavored is also super delicious. Especially Coke.
BerryBaby May 3, 2017
How funny, I just picked out all the popcorn jelly beans and threw them out! None of us care for the popcorn flavor and they came in the Jelly Belly Flop bag (jelly beans that didn't make the Jelly Belly cut, two stuck together, odd shape). My mouth doesn't know the shapes are off, it only cares about the flavor! LOL
Smaug May 3, 2017
Speaking of cough syrup- why are cough syrups and other "cherry flavored" pharmaceuticals always called "wild" cherry? I've never eaten a wild cherry myself, but I find it implausible that anything in nature tastes like that.
702551 May 4, 2017
Probably so people don't compare the taste of pharma "cherry" flavors to typical commercial cherries.

Heck, I'd say half of the stuff labelled "cherry" flavored has very little semblance to what a real cherry tastes like.