What can Jelly Beans teach us about Life?

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Popeye & Olive Oyl Salt 'n Pepper Shakers CLICK to PRICE

Popeye & Olive Oyl
Salt ‘n Pepper Shakers — CLICK ON PHOTO TO PRICE

Jelly beans (or jellybeans) have always intrigued me. Why is this sugary candy so popular after all these years; over one hundred, to be exact, in spite of the fact that they’re made out of cornstarch, the #1 enemy of most health food purists.

According to Wickipedia, “most jelly beans are sold as an assortment of around eight different flavors, most of them fruit based. Assortments of “spiced” jellybeans and gumdrops are also available, which include a similar number of spice and mint flavors. The colors of jelly beans often correspond with a fruit and a “spiced” flavor.

I love jelly beans!

I love jelly beans!

Some premium brands, such as Jelly Belly and The Jelly Bean Factory, are available in many different flavors, including berry, tropical fruit, soft drink, popcorn, licorice, and novelty ranges, in addition to the familiar fruit and spice flavors. A version of the Bertie Botts’ Every Flavor Beans from the Harry Potter series was made commercially available and included flavors described as earwax, dirt, pepper, and vomit.” Eeeoooow!

Patriotic Jellies

Patriotic Jellies

Why do I like jelly beans?

They come in different flavors. They remind me that people also are unique and varied. We don’t all have to be alike. We don’t have to conform. We don’t have to play follow-the-leader, but can think for ourselves. Each of us can be enjoyed and cherished for who we are. Peer pressure is a way for unimaginative people to manipulate others into being the same. Don’t buy into it! Be an original. Learn from others, but create your own style. Walk confidently to the tune of your own dancing heart.

Each flavor is an acquired taste. Difficult or unusual things often require more time and effort to appreciate. Enjoyment comes from the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve overcome a challenge or learned a new skill. Being willing to try something new, especially something that will improve your life or a future career is not for the faint of heart. Acquired knowledge is a sign of good taste.

Jelly beans come in many different Colors. Jelly bean enthusiasts are experts in diversity. The candy’s wide range of color gives us opportunity to choose, to admire, and to appreciate the entire chromatic spectrum. Color enlivens us and quenches our visual appetite for variety. Colorful foods whet the taste buds. We should embrace color in whatever form it takes even in people. Our Creator placed people-of-color on the earth, therefore, color is beautiful.

Jelly beans make me Cheerful. How can you not feel like you’re living the good life when a sweet fizz of flavor dissolves on your tongue so deliciously? How can you complain about a dark and sorry world while savoring the jelly bean’s tantalizing sweetness?

Instead of banning them from our diets, maybe we should encourage the eating of jelly beans every day for health the way we do for apples? Who knows, maybe road rage would decrease? We could share them with our friends and divert our enemies. President Ronald Reagan had a jar of jelly beans on his desk. I suspect it was harder for others to yell at him while they had their mouths full of scrumptious succulence. Make your dentist happy! Eat more Jelly beans.

Jelly bean jar

Jelly bean jar

Jelly bellies and beans should be eaten slowly. They’re soft spongy texture reminds me to relish the moment; to “look before I leap,” and to think about the consequences of my actions. If I crossed the street without looking or I only did what I wanted without thinking, how precarious life would seem. Slow down. Chew. Think about things before you do them. Weigh the options. Consider the results. Is life “all about me” or will others be effected? Chew. Meditate. Chew again and then chew some more.

Are jelly beans too much of a good thing? When you’re slurping down your third handful, remember the corn syrup. Remind yourself that moderation is a good thing. Ingesting too many sweets may cause cavities, indigestion, and weight gain. Jellybeans were made small so you could delight in each tidbit of flavor without gorging yourself. Gluttony was never the intent. Managing your jelly bean consumption says a whole lot about your self-control and restraint. “Bet you can’t eat just one;” but if you can, you’ve earned the right to have a jelly bean jar on your desk!

Pair of Popeye twister dolls

Pair of Popeye twister dolls — CLICK ON PHOTO TO PRICE

Acquired Taste is learned, Distinct and Personal

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Tansy's Pride

“Tansy’s Pride” 11 x 14 pastel on Bristol; ready to frame

I remember the first time I tasted pizza as a child. The heavy greasy cheese slid into my stomach like a bomb. The taste blew my mind, but my stomach churned. Thirty minutes later, I barfed up this delectable plate like a rock. Strangely, a few days later, I found myself hungering for another taste, another smell of this tantalizing taste treat.

Mushrooms were always used in my mother’s cuisine; however, I’d never eaten them raw. My first dry and papery bite was disappointing. The taste and smell reminded me of somebody’s musty basement. Once I got past that, their succulent, melt-in-your mouth texture and flavor made me a life-long fan. Japanese Shitake mushrooms are a favorite, along with Italian Portobello smothered in Marsala sauce, and American morels sautéed in butter for a light and delectable dish.

My first experience with pâté de foie gras came in Germany at the Ratskeller in Bremen. Goose liver pâté never tasted so fine, smooth and exquisite. The escargot brought back hints of musty basement, but I learned through continual tastings to linger and enjoy; that is until I saw a snail farm in Paris on Public Television. After watching these asexual creatures co-habit and reproduce in mounds of slime, I haven’t been able to enjoy them since!

Frog’s legs, rabbit, rattle snake, and locusts all require nibbling and experimentation to get the hang of it and to appreciate these newfound edible sensations. Of course, a little chocolate never hurts to hide what you fear.

Beer is a taste that many abhor, even after several mugs full. Once you get past the sour after taste, the rest is history. There’s nothing like a cold beer on a hot day to quench thirst. And what a great accompaniment with cheesy pizza or to soothe your stomach after eating Italian spices.

Wine is another love-it-or-leave it beverage that is literally time tested. Ancient as the “Ancient of Days,” wine is beloved the world over for its ability to enhance food, aid digestion, and quench the palate.

Our choices change as we age. Knowledge and experience mature our taste buds and our sense of smell. Our eyes no longer cringe at what we dislike, but embrace the exciting challenge of discovery. We not only become more discriminating with our food, but with our interests. Art becomes “eye candy” that we analyze and enjoy. The more knowledge we gain about the subject, the more we begin to understand ourselves and what appeals to us.

Books take us places we’ve never been before. The more we devour their pages, the more likely we are to expand our interests. For example, two of my friends, knowing that I was an avid reader, recommended books they thought I would like. The first turned out to be the longest book I’ve ever read, yet I was determined to finish it. There were too many details and too many tears. The lengthy descriptions and static pace prolonged the agony and bored me to tears. Even minor characters were examined under a magnifying glass until I felt tormented to “get on with it!”

I realized I read to get away from my own stress and to find escape in someone else’s adventure. I want something fast-paced, usually historical, and always exciting or meaningful.

The same goes for food. I hunger for delectable dishes that teach me about foreign lands and the people who live there. That’s why my paintings are usually filled with exotic people and places. I find other cultures and the faces they wear beautiful and telling. They remind me of our common humanity and give me hope in the concept of basic human goodness.

Taste and appreciation are both acquired traits. I’ve known people who are afraid to taste something new for fear it will gross them out. Fear keeps us from enlarging our sphere of influence and enjoyment. Fear of the unknown may keep us from lending a helping hand or experiencing the contributions of others. Don’t hold back! Give it a go. I dare you!