National Jelly Bean Day: Candy Artists’ Best Portraits (Photos)
It’s National Jelly Bean Day! To celebrate, candy artists share their most incredible works of art made with the confection.
Kristen Cumings was hired as Jelly Belly’s official artist just in time for the company’s 50th anniversary—and spent eight months of the next year creating Masterpieces of Jelly Bean Art, a series inspired by classic artworks such as van Gogh’s Starry Night and da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and made up of jelly beans. In the video below, Cumings shows off her technique while working on a reproduction of Grant Wood’s iconic American Gothic, first with paint and then with a palette of Jelly Belly beans. She makes it look easy, but don’t be fooled—each piece of bean art requires about two and a half months of work.
Ronald ReaganPeter Rocha created this likeness of Ronald Reagan as a homage to the president, whose love of the candy was well known. During Reagan’s inauguration in 1981, more than three tons of Jelly Belly beans were eaten. Two years later he sent the candy into outer space on the Challenger shuttle. Reagan even had a special holder for his favorite candy on Air Force One so they wouldn’t spill in case of turbulence. This portrait hangs in the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif.
James DeanPeter Rocha was widely known for his intricate Jelly Belly artwork. He estimated that most pictures use about 14,000 beans. This one was inspired by James Dean’s film Giant.
Marilyn MonroeAfter Peter Rocha died in 2004, his nephew Roger took over the family trade and has been continuing his uncle’s legacy of Jelly Belly portraits since. This four- by four-foot image of the 20th century’s most recognizable starlet contains 8,000 beans.
Will and KateThis portrait of the royal couple was created by artist Malcolm West with 10,000 Jelly Belly beans in a process he called “painstaking” but rewarding. It was exhibited at the Cake Decorating, Chocolate and Sugarcraft Exhibition in England just a few months before the 2011 wedding.
‘We Can Do It’Kristen Cumings poses with her five-foot-tall Jelly Belly version of the World War II–era “We Can Do It” poster.
‘Mona Lisa’Artists have been trying to replicate Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic portrait for hundreds of years—but this might be the sweetest version ever attempted. Kristen Cumings’s candy-only Mona Lisa is about triple the size of the original at four feet by six feet.
Larry KingPeter Rocha made this portrait, which hung for a while in the radio host’s home. Each piece of Jelly Belly artwork can take up to six months to complete.
George ClooneyWomen everywhere must have swooned at this edible version of George Clooney that hung in Beverly Hills’s Luxe Hotel. Roger Rocha created the portrait in honor of Clooney’s 2008 Best Actor nomination for Michael Clayton. He used cotton-candy beans for the movie star’s cheeks and the buttered-popcorn flavor to highlight his hair.
Harry Potter They’re not exactly the same beans Harry and his friends would enjoy on the Hogwarts Express, but when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 was released in 2011, Kristen Cumings made this portrait of the literary star. Jelly Belly also marked the film by rereleasing its infamous Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans with flavors like Rotten Egg and Vomit. Yum!