Most of the time, snacking on Jelly Bellies is a tasty proposition—unless you reach for one of the candy company’s repulsive flavors, like barf, stinky socks, and rotten eggs. “Barf is the most universally despised flavor,” says Rob Swaigen, vice president of global marketing for the California company, “which is the highest goal for us.”
Today Jelly Belly fans can brace themselves for the two latest offenders: dead fish (vom) and spoiled milk. Both are disguised in the brand’s latest BeanBoozled pack as the best-selling coconut and strawberry banana flavors (they look identical). These flavor atrocities got us at Delish thinking: Who is behind brainstorming and—worse—testing these grotesque recipes? “We have some simple criteria,” Swaigen says. “The flavor has to be nasty—has to have a gag factor. Everyone can bring to mind checking an expired milk carton or even pouring a glass of spoiled milk. And the smell of rotting fish is so powerful you almost know what it tastes like.”
Spoiled milk took Jelly Belly R&D Manager Ambrose Lee six months to perfect. “We start by studying the aroma of the flavor,” Lee says. “We put spoiled milk in a warm closet and let it sit.” Then he tinkers with a proprietary mixture of flavoring compounds (vinegar was key here) to get the balance just right. “At one point, it was so powerful tears were coming out of our eyes,” Lee says. “The right amount shouldn’t make anyone cry, but it should leave a lasting impression.”
Boxes of the latest repulsive flavors will hit stores this spring.