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Jelly baby

Jelly baby

Jelly babies are a type of soft confectionery that look like little babies in a variety of colours. They are very popular in the United Kingdom. There are currently several companies that make jelly babies, most predominantly Trebor Bassett (famous for their liquorice allsorts) and also Rowntree (Nestlé).

Jelly Babies were launched by Bassett's in 1919 in Sheffield as "Peace Babies" to mark the end of World War I. Production was suspended during World War II due to wartime shortages and the fact that the name had largely become ironic. In 1953 the product was relaunched as "Jelly Babies". In March 1989 Bassett's were taken over by Cadbury Schweppes who had earlier acquired the Trebor brand.

Jelly Babies manufactured in the United Kingdom tend to be dusted in starch which is left over from the manufacturing process where it is used as a mould. Jelly Babies of Australian manufacture generally lack this coating.

Like many sweets, they contain gelatin and are thus not suitable for vegetarians.

A popular science class experiment is to put them in a strong oxidising agent, and see the resulting spectacular reaction. The experiment is commonly referred to as: "Screaming jelly babies."

Each Bassett's Jelly Baby now has an individual name and shape, colour and flavour: Brilliant (red - strawberry), Bubbles (yellow - lemon), Baby Bonny (pink - raspberry), Boofuls (green - lime), Bigheart (purple - blackcurrant) and Bumper (orange). The introduction of different shapes and names was a new innovation, circa 1989, prior to which all colours of jelly baby were a uniform shape.

Jelly Babies are similar in appearance to Gummi bears, which are better known outside of the United Kingdom.

According to the Marvel comics Doctor Who issue # 21, Jelly Babies are not sold in the United States because of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulation. The FDA determined that one or more of the food colorings used in making jelly babies are carcinogenic. Therefore the importation of the confection into the United States was banned. The comic was published in 1986. This reflects jelly babies from that era.

In popular culture

  • Jelly babies were featured frequently on the science fiction TV series Doctor Who in the late 1970s, as they were a favorite confection of the Fourth Doctor. During his era of the series, "Would you like a Jelly Baby?" was a frequently repeated catchphrase, often used by the character to "break the ice" in tense meetings. The Second Doctor, Seventh Doctor and Eighth Doctor also enjoyed jelly babies, as did the Master in his sixth incarnation.
  • George Harrison's favourite sweet were Jelly Babies. Many fans of the Beatles used to throw Jelly Babies at them during shows. However when he was in America, he was often showered with Jelly Beans, which are much harder than Jelly Babies.
  • Djelibeybi, a fictional country which features prominently in the novel Pyramids of the popular Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, is a pun on jelly baby. Also in the Discworld novel Mort the wizard Cutwell is referenced as finding half a bag of melted Jelly Babies in his pocket while looking for something to smoke.
  • In "Night Lines", the second episode in the 4th Season of Coupling, Steve and Susan mention their trip to the a pre-natal seminar. Steve caused a pregnant woman to cry after comparing the appearance of fetuses to jelly babies, then biting the head off an actual jelly baby.

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