The Founder of Jelly Belly Is Developing CBD Jelly Beans Now

Even if you get a buttered popcorn-flavored bean, at least you'll be chill.
Bettina Makalintal
Brooklyn, US
assorted jelly beans in different colors and flavors
Photo: Cathy Scola/Getty Images

For every drink you enjoyed as a child, there’s a pretty good chance there’s now an alcoholic version on the market. Natural Light now makes “Naturdays,” chuggable cans of pink lemonade-flavored malt liquor. Drinkers in New York City’s East Village carry glowing pouches full of cocktails—the perfect mashup of 90s light-up sneakers and Capri Sun packets. A few years back, you couldn’t hit a summer party without seeing six-packs of Not Your Father’s boozy root beer.


In the post-Goop world, the same has become glaringly clear with food and cannabidiol—like a wholesome, food world Rule 34, there’s a CBD version of everything. Last week’s Expo West natural products trade show unveiled dozens of varieties of CBD waters, brownies, snacks, and more; at many Brooklyn corner stores, you couldn’t throw a rock without hitting something infused with CBD. But the latest CBD-laced food to grab the internet’s attention is an underdog: the jelly bean. That’s probably because the CBD jelly beans from Spectrum Confections have a surprising pedigree: Founder David Klein also created Jelly Belly.

Klein launched the Jelly Belly-branded bean in 1976, but sold the rights in 1980. He regretted the sale and, as MUNCHIES covered in 2016, he’s been looking to hit it big in the candy world again ever since through several projects that never truly took off, such as David’s Gourmet Jelly Beans, a candy called Snot, and Original Coffee House Jelly Beans. Unlike those attempts, CBD jelly beans could be the perfect pivot: After Cannabis Aficionado gave the brand attention earlier this month, the beans have completely sold out—proving that people are, at least, intrigued by his foray into CBD.

Each bean in Spectrum’s product line of sour, sugar-free, and regular jelly beans has 10 milligrams of CBD. “The jelly bean is perfect for the proper dosage [of CBD],” Klein told Cannabis Aficionado. “If people want a small dose, they eat one. […] They can decide what their proper dosage is.” That’s pretty standard for the CBD gummy market, but given that nobody ever eats just one jelly bean, you could end up with a high dosage pretty quickly.

Across the food and drink space, brands are pivoting to CBD to take advantage of the new niche in the market. Austin-based Cuvée Coffee, for example, has been a Texas staple since 1998, but the company launched canned nitro cold brew nationwide in 2015, followed by CBD-infused cold brew in 2018. GT’s Living Foods, a big name in the kombucha scene, has diversified its approach to wellness drinks by launching CBD sparkling water earlier this year. Even Coca-Cola was allegedly in talks to release CBD drinks for a while, though it later announced that it wouldn’t be pursuing the cannabis market for the meantime.

While CBD has been shown to have measurable beneficial effects on epilepsy, anxiety, and schizophrenia when taken in doses of hundreds of milligrams per day, experts told Tonic that they aren’t sure the low doses in foods like gummies will have any noticeable effect. CBD also takes longer to have an effect when you eat or drink it—as opposed to smoking it or using tinctures—and the strength of each dose can be diminished by your liver during digestion.

While CBD’s health benefits remain dubious, don’t be surprised to see brands cashing in on is all the suckers dropping dollars on anything with CBD in its name. But on the plus side, jelly beans taste pretty good, anyway.