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Jelly Bean Day Fact: Jelly Beans Are Made With Insect Secretions

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by James Hunt

Happy National Jelly Bean Day! If you've ever wondered what the ingredient is that makes jelly beans so hard and shiny, you may wish you never asked the question at all. So let's not beat around the bush: Jelly beans are shiny because they're coated in shellac, which is a resin that's secreted by the female lac bug (laccifer lacca) after it drinks the sap of trees.

Native to the forests of Thailand and India, the lac bug deposits shellac onto the twigs and branches of trees, which is then harvested and processed into flakes. After being dissolved in ethanol, the liquid shellac can be sprayed on everything from food products to fingernails to hardwood floors to create a shiny appearance on the exterior.

These days, many of the historical uses of shellac—it was once used as electrical insulation and to make records before the 1950s—have actually been replaced by vinyl-based resins. As a natural resin, shellac remains popular for use in food. It's even used as a replacement for natural apple wax, which is removed during cleaning.

Unfortunately, if you're a vegetarian or vegan, this might be bad news, as shellac is an animal byproduct. Shellac is also an ingredient in confectioner's glaze and some other edible glazes, and may be listed as an additive using the number E904. So if your plan is to avoid shellac entirely, it may prove difficult, but it's not impossible. As long as you can resist the taste of jelly beans. Happy Jelly Bean Day?!

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50 Sweet Facts About Your Favorite Halloween Candies
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It’s no surprise that candy delights kids and adults alike. We love sweets so much that the average American eats about 22 pounds of candy each year. Whether you’re looking to impress your friends or simply brush up on your candy trivia, check out these 50 sweet facts about your favorite candies.

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The United States of Sweetness: The Most Popular Halloween Candy in Each State
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If you've ever argued that no one actually likes candy corn, you're probably not from South Carolina, Rhode Island, New Mexico, Michigan, Idaho, or Alabama. The tri-colored treat is a favorite among residents in these states, according to sales data from CandyStore.com.

As Thrillist reports, the bulk candy retailer combed through nearly 10 years of data (2007 to 2016, with a particular focus on the months leading up to All Hallows' Eve) to gauge America’s top-selling sweets. They created the interactive map below to display their results, which includes the top three most popular Halloween handouts in each state, as well as in Washington, D.C.

Source: CandyStore.com.

While a good portion of the U.S. seems to prefer the divisive—yet classic—candy corn, another overarching favorite was Sour Patch Kids, which reigns supreme in states including Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, and New York. Following in its puckery wake across the board are M&Ms, Milky Ways, Reese's Cups, and Tootsie Pops.

Some states are unique in their candy choices: Alaskans are turned onto Twix, residents of Connecticut crave Almond Joys, and Delawareans go loco for Life Savers. Meanwhile, trick-or-treaters in the coastal state of Georgia have a sweet tooth for Swedish Fish, Louisianans love Lemonheads, Mississippians are mad for 3 Musketeers, Montanans desire Dubble Bubble, and Nevadans hunger for Hershey's Kisses.

After seeing which treat is No. 1 in your state, check out the chart below to learn how many pounds of each top-ranking candy are consumed in each state (and then go buy a new toothbrush).

Source: CandyStore.com.

[h/t Thrillist]

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