Jelly Babies, those iconic and colourful gummy sweets shaped like plump babies, have been a favourite treat for generations. With their unique shape, soft texture, and vibrant fruity flavours, these little delights have captured the hearts and taste buds of people worldwide.
So, let's take a gander at 10 fascinating facts about Jelly Babies...
Jelly Babies have a rich history that dates back to the late 19th century. Originally produced in Lancashire, England, it wasn't until the early 20th century that these sugary confections gained popularity.
In 1864, an Austrian immigrant, labouring at Fryers of Lancashire, unveiled a delectable creation that would eventually become the iconic candy. However, he was, apparently, supposed to create a mould for jelly bears, but the result was more baby-like, and the Jelly Baby was born!
The iconic sweets were initially introduced to the world under the intriguing moniker of "Unclaimed Babies". This early version of the Jelly Baby was larger than the modern commercial version, and they were sold for one farthing each.
In 1918, Bassetts took over the manufacturing process, marketing them as "Peace Babies", which marked the end of World War I, symbolising a sweet return to peace and prosperity.
Production of Peace Babies was halted during World War II. Bassetts reintroduced the sweet as Jelly Babies in 1953.
The process of creating Jelly Babies is a fascinating journey. It begins with mixing sugar, glucose syrup, and water to create a sweet, sticky base. Gelatin is then added to give the candy its signature chewiness. The mixture is flavoured with a variety of fruit extracts and poured into baby-shaped moulds.
After setting, the sweets are dusted with corn starch to prevent them sticking together. The starch is first used to help release the sweets from their mould, with the left-overs used as the dusting - nothing goes to waste! However, the Australian version of Jelly Babies does not typically have this coating.
This video features the fabulous Jelly Baby scenes featuring Tom Baker - enjoy!
Jelly Babies have become more than just a tasty treat; they hold cultural significance in various forms of media. Doctor Who fans, for example, might recognise Jelly Babies as the Fourth Doctor's favourite snack. Tom Baker, who played the Doctor from 1974 to 1981, could be seen offering the sweets to both friend and foe (including Davros!), and his catchphrase was "Would you like a Jelly Baby?".
The sweet has also made appearances in literature and film, cementing its status as a pop culture icon.
In 1989, Bassetts named each of the different babies as follows; Brilliant (red; strawberry), Bubbles (yellow; lemon), Baby Bonny (pink; raspberry), Boofuls (green; lime), Bigheart (purple; blackcurrant), and Bumper (orange). Before 1989, each jelly baby was a uniform shape and did not have a name.
In November 2022, there was a public backlash against the pop star Boy George for eating jelly babies during the 22nd series of the ITV reality show I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! The backlash came because George had publicly announced that he is vegetarian, and that he would be "following a vegan diet" in camp.
But don't worry, this was a positive change. Since this date, the company has included only natural colours and ingredients in their Jelly babies.
The gelatine comes from the ligaments, skins, tendons and bones of cows and pigs, which means that the sweets are definitely not suitable for vegetarians or vegans.
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While Maynards Bassetts are the original and oldest manufacturer of Jelly Babies, there are several other brands also making the iconic sweets.
The German confectionary giant Haribo also make Jelly Babies, and these are available in a range if sizes from small share bags to giant 3kg bulk bags.
Berryman's offer traditional gift jars filled with Jelly Babies, which are highly rated by customers.
The British confectioner Taveners also make the sweet, and small 165g bags of Jelly Babies can be bought from Iceland supermarket.
The fourth Doctor offering his assistant Sarah Jane a Jelly Baby