Jelly Belly Challenges Your Gag Reflex with BeanBoozled Collection

I offered Canned Dog Food to the CEO, and she ate it.

How often can that be a true statement? When it involves the Jelly Belly Candy Company and its Jelly Belly BeanBoozled line, more often than you think. I tried to convince her — company CEO Lisa Rowland Brasher, fifth-generation candy maker — to eat Barf, as in the flavored bean of this self-proclaimed “weird and wild” lineup of candied jellies, but she wasn’t having it. On the next dare, though, she ended up biting on Stinky Socks. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the flavor pill of the night.

Launching its fourth edition of the BeanBoozled collection, Jelly Belly welcomed the curious to its New York City event at Barcade’s Chelsea location. Littered amongst the throwback displays of functional (and still addicting) arcade games and a beer lover-approved selection of drafts were bowls upon bowls of tempting jelly beans. Buyer beware, however, as BeanBoozled features 20 flavors — twin pairings of delicious classics and unpleasant, retching tastes.

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The flavors include: Berry Blue/Toothpaste, Butter Popcorn/Rotten Egg, Caramel Corn/Moldy Cheese, Chocolate Pudding/Canned Dog Food, Juicy Pear/Booger, Lime/Lawn Clippings, Peach/Barf, Tutti-Frutti/Stinky Socks and new dare-to-compare treats in Strawberry Banana Smoothie/Dead Fish and Coconut/Spoiled Milk*.

“This is absolutely terrible,” said Robert Swaigen, Jelly Belly vice president of global marketing. “But that’s what makes it great. The worse the flavor, the better the game.”

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Rowland Brasher agreed as she absently picked bean after bean from the bowl in front of her, occasionally grimacing at her own creation. “I can’t do the Rotten Egg flavor,” she confessed. “I grew up on a farm and simply have had a bad experience with that.”

Initially launched in 2007, BeanBoozled did relatively well for what many would have deemed a fleeting gimmick but the collection eventually became a successful Jelly Belly line in its own right with the advent of YouTubers unabashedly posting their skittish (and generally hilarious) taste tests online. There are currently more than 1.6 million user-generated videos dedicated to BeanBoozled bravery with the top 10 videos reaching upwards of 115 million views.

I took the bait. And out of each pairing I chewed on the following (in order): Toothpaste, Lawn Clippings, Strawberry Banana Smoothie, Peach, Buttered Popcorn, Canned Dog Food, Booger, Caramel Corn, Stinky Socks and Spoiled Milk. With each friendly flavor my confidence grew before the puppy chow punched me in the mouth, but I couldn’t stop. I was more than halfway through. Conclusion: Have mouthwash ready because the abhorrent aftertaste of an expired-dairy-chunks-and-toe-jam cocktail must be killed immediately. You know, before you play again.

Jelly Belly’s “gamification” of its most popular confection has turned everyday snacking into jelly bean roulette, a sugar-high risk whose only requirement is, well, to like jelly beans. Because like Rowland Brasher, almost everyone in attendance could not and would not stop reaching for more, even with the looming threat of “delectable” Dead Fish.