Jelly Babies: History & Sweet Success

Jelly Babies have been many people’s favorite treat for generations now. The sugary sweet thrills and chewy jellies make it impossible not to love it. A burst of delicious flavors when biting into the plumpy texture is an exceptionally good feeling. 

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While enjoying mouthwatering Jelly Babies, have you ever wondered who invented them? Or when and where were they made first? 

Let’s learn more about this iconic confectionery and “nibble away” the history of loved-by-all sweet treats. 

Jelly Babies

What are Jelly Babies?

Jelly Babies are sweet candies that have a soft texture. They have a firmer exterior and are a little harder on the outside. However, inside it has a rubbery texture similar to the other gummy candies. Candies are actually quite easy to chew, and their small size allows you to consume a large number of them at once. The outer parts are mainly covered and dusted in starch. However, it is mainly dependent on the brand and manufacturer. 

Jelly Babies are soft sugar jelly candies that come in the form of plump babies. The candy is sold in different colors. They were invented in the 19th century in Lancashire, England. However, it was not popular until, in 1918, Bassett’s of Sheffield, Yorkshire, began mass-producing this sweet candy.

The treat became especially popular after the advertisement campaign that was held by Riches Confectionery Company. Alongside, several other treats were also part of the promotion; those were “Tiny Totties” and “Sloper’s Babies”. However, their price indicates that they may have been larger in size in comparison to modern Jelly Babies.

The Invention of Jelly Babies

Jelly babies were invented by the immigrant workers of Fryers of Lancashire. He was originally from Austria. The first versions of candy were produced in 1864. The invention was a happy mistake. According to the sources, the worker had to create a mold that resembled the bears. However, it seems like he “messed up” and instead the cute baby-like shape was received. 

At first, the candy was called “Unclaimed Babies” and was sold and produced during the 19th century. It was mainly sold in areas of the North West of England. Back in time, “unclaimed babies” was the term that referred to the babies that were abandoned outside of churches. So, for many people, eventually, the name seems to be unacceptable. It appears that there was no controversy at the time.

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After the candy had a short hiatus, the confectionery brand Basset’s took over the branding and started manufacturing its own Jelly candies. In 1918, they managed to launch a product similar to the “Unclaimed Babies” and named them “Peace Babies”. The new name marked the end of World War I. The new version of the candy had a more realistic look and was a little different from the previous one. 

The Second World War caused shortages of products needed for candy making. Therefore, the production process was stopped during the Second World War and was relaunched in 1953. This time, a new name was also introduced, and the candy was called “Jelly Babies.” The candy today is manufactured by several large confectionary companies. 

Promotion Campaigns Of Jelly Babies

Jelly Babies have become kind of a household name. However, not only because they are amazingly tasty, but also because they are famous for their TV appearances and their unique advertising campaigns. The list includes Doc Martin, Terry Patchett’s Discworld, and Doctor Who. 

Jelly Babies had some very memorable promotions and advertisement campaigns. One of them was their appearance in the television program Doctor Who. The candy was mentioned numerous times during the series. The main character of the series was totally in love with those fluffy treats. All the doctors portrayed in the series had some kind of attachment with Jelly Babies. For example, the fourth doctor offered candy to strangers with the purpose of deducing their difficult situations. Mostly, doctors used to carry around the treats in the white paper bag.

One of the greatest appearances of the Jelly Babies was in the Supercar episode of “Operation Superstock”. The series was first aired in 1962 and is considered to be one of the most popular and loved programs. The Jelly Babies in that series were called “Those Kids’ Candies.” 

Fans of The Beatles did something spectacular; they pelted the band using Jelly Babies. It was thrown at the band during their concert in the late 1950s. They did it because it was reported that the candy was George Harrison’s favorite treat. 

“Jelly Baby Song was released in 2013 and was sung by Australian singer Alison Hams. The song was part of the Type 1 diabetes awareness campaign. The promotional material stated that eating jelly babies could help people overcome hypoglycaemic episodes.

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Screamy Jelly Babies” is often used in chemical experiments that can be done with Jelly Babies. As part of the experiment, the candies are stored in a strong oxidizing agent, which results in a unique reaction. When Jelly Babies are added to the oxidizer, light is produced and there is a “screaming” sound. This is happening because the chemicals take the electrons away, so the oxidizer gets into the reaction with the sugar that is in the Jelly Babies. 

Variations of Jelly Babies

The new line of confectionery was released in 1999 by Barnack Confectionery. It was called “Jellyatrics”. The new product was launched to commemorate the 80th birthday of the Jelly Babies. 

Before 1989, all Jelly Babies had the same colors and uniform shapes. However, it was changed in 1989 and new variations were introduced. This time, each variation had a specific name too.

The second big change in the variations was made in the year 2007. They eliminated the artificial ingredients because of the safety of the customers. Even though this topic is pretty controversial, artificial ingredients are believed to increase hyperactivity in children and therefore are harmful. However, the Bassett family did not risk its prestige and made the decision. Basset’s confectionery brand introduced candies that had natural colors and ingredients such as fruit juice.

One of the largest manufacturers of Jelly Babies is Bassett’s. Each variation in shape, color, and flavor has its own name. The names were assigned in 1989. Other than the specific color, name, and flavor, each variation had assigned visual and psychological characteristics. All Bassetts Jelly Baby names starting with the letter B.  

  • Brilliant candies come in strawberry flavors and are called “Brilliant.” 
  • Another variation is the raspberry flavor which comes in pink color. This particular one is called “Baby Bonny”. 
  • The orange-flavored confections are orange in color and are called “Bumpers.” The Yellow Jelly Babies are yellow, have a lemon flavor, and are called “Bubbles.” This particular one is a girl who wears a necklace. The Yellow Jelly Baby has a smiley face. 
  • “Boofuls” is the name of the candy pieces that come in green and have a lime flavor. 
  • Purple Jelly Babies have a blackcurrant taste and are named “Bigheart”. 
  • A green Jelly Baby is also known as a “Cry Baby”. It is because these variations of Jellies had a crying face. In the 1993 advertisement, the manufacturer stated that “there was no need to worry”. The Bootiful was just a little more sensitive in comparison to others.
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Jelly Babies can have various versions in different countries. For example, in the United Kingdom, the candy is covered in starch. In the manufacturing process, starch is used to remove the hardened sweets from the molds. On the other hand, in Australia, the candy is not coated that much and contains gelatin similar to other gummy confectioneries. 

Bassett’s Jelly Babies

George Bassett & Co is a British candy manufacturing company and today operates under the Cadbury brand. The manufacturer is owned by Mondelez International. The company was founded in 1842 by George Bassett

Bassetts Company is a famous sweet confectionery manufacturer and has been making Jelly Babies since 1918. However, other than this unique treat, they are famous for the invention of Liquorice Allsorts in 1899, which was created by accident just like it happened for the Jelly Babies.

 The invention of the Liquorice Allsort belonged to the Salesman of Bassett — Charlie Thompson. He accidentally dropped the candies in front of the client, and the idea of the mixed sweets came up. Since then, the Liquorice Allsort has been one of the most famous treats in the world. 

Jelly Baby Confectioneries are manufactured by various brands in different countries. Each of them has its own unique technique and ingredients used. However, Bassett’s candies are mainly made with ingredients such as sugar, glucose syrup, cornflour, vegetable concentrates, water, citric acid, and beef gelatin. To give the specific color, they add anthocyanins, curcumin, and paprika extract. 

Today, this candy is sold in countries such as the United States, Canada, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Japan, and the list goes on… This means that you can get them pretty much anywhere worldwide. 

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Maynards Bassetts Jelly Babies Ingredients

  • Sugar
  • Glucose Syrup
  • Water
  • Gelatine
  • Concentrated Fruit Juices** (1 %) (Apple, Lime, Orange, Strawberry, Blackcurrant, Lemon, Raspberry)
  • Acid (Citric Acid)
  • Colours (Anthocyanins, Paprika Extract, Vegetable Carbon, Lutein, Curcumin)
  • Flavourings
  • **Equivalent to 5.5 % Fruit Juice

Maynards Bassetts Jelly Babies Nutrition

Serving Size:4 sweets (26g)% Daily Value*
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat0.5
Calories88
Total Fat0.1g0%
Saturated Fat 0.1g0%
Sodium2mg0%
Total Carbohydrates21g7%
Sugars20g
Protein
0.9g
  • Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Pictures of Jelly Babies

Jelly Babies Commercials

Bottom Line

Jelly Babies truly are exceptionally delicious and a widely admired vintage candy. They’ve been around for as long as we can remember and have remained popular treats for generations. The confectionery went through quite a tough time and managed to maintain its fame.

Which Jelly Baby is your favorite and why? Share your thoughts and memories in the comments section.

Please leave a review or any memories of this snack in the comments below. Thank you!

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