During the first phase of manufacturing, jellybeans are perfectly transparent. In this preliminary state, they look like misplaced contact lenses, or raindrops that failed to burst on impact. These beans have no flavor of their own, yet contain the potential for all flavors; when bitten, there is only that familiar texture of a tender shell giving way, followed by that of semi-molten starch oozing apart.

Herein lies the secret of jellybeans: they obtain all flavor from their coloration alone. They are the chameleons of confection- each little morsel is loaded with kenose, an unusual sugar produced in the guts of a parasitic worm known to science as Hymenolepsis saccharia. This material exhibits a poorly understood yet experimentally verifiable property: it always tastes exactly how it looks, even when it can’t be seen. In the wild, this helps the worm conceal its eggs inside the pulp of local fruit; most animals that swallow them remain completely unaware of their presence, allowing them to hatch inside the digestive tract unnoticed.

This is why it’s so easy for manufacturers to churn out artificial jellybean flavors- as long as they have just the right dye, the parasite’s sugar does the rest. Of course, it does have to be just the right dye; if mistakes are made, a marshmallow jellybean can end up tasting like anything from goat’s milk to television snow to human teeth. This also allows for a great deal of possibility; in recent years, jellybeans have been made to match the flavor of ambergris, an old library’s musk, and even the ozone produced by lightning. Rumors abound that after scientists identified the average color of the universe (a hue deliciously named “cosmic latte”), a handful of confectioners actually used it to produce a universe-flavored jellybean (a flavor which was also dubbed “cosmic latte”).

Of course, this technique of producing jellybeans is a well guarded trade secret. There is significant concern among those in the know that widespread knowledge of the kenose-producing parasite would ruin the popularity of the confection. After all, the worm’s transparent eggs do look just like jellybeans- it’s not unthinkable that a few might have found their way into a shipment by mistake.

Jellybeans meant to taste like certain peaches have proven to be a particularly dangerous Choking Hazard.

Refried jellybeans are served as a dessert in a certain Trendy Restaurant.

There are aphrodesiac jellybeans as well- and none are stronger than those made to mimic World Jelly.

Manufacturers are vexed by a thought experiment: can jellybeans ever be made to taste like Rainbows?