When I was but a young whippersnapper of a lad, well before I made my foray into becoming an Online Commenter-American, I used to bike the 1.5 miles from my house to the local mall to kill time whenever I got bored. There, in between games of Super Mario Brothers and Punch-Out! in the small arcade, I would spend some of my hard-earned allowance money for a white paper bag “filled” with a whopping 1⁄4 pound of Jelly Belly jelly beans, evenly split between Toasted Marshmallow and some minty blue bean whose name I can’t remember and which has long since been discontinued.
To overuse and oversimplify an allegorical trope, football is like a bag of mixed Jelly Bellies — a lot of times you get something you really like, but other times you get the bean that makes your face look like Phil Jones going up for a header. What an appropriate theme then for Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-1 loss at Leicester City, a match in which Spurs’ players were actually pretty good but football decided to football.
A note to our UK friends — my understanding is that you CAN in fact get Jelly Bellies in the UK. I’m unclear as to whether all of these flavors are available in the home countries, so this will be a very USA-centric review today, much like, say the Doritos ratings from last year. Sorry about that. Just trust us that we are, as always, 100% correct in our assessment.
5 stars: Toasted Marshmallow
In general, fruit flavored jelly beans are better than non-fruit flavored jelly beans. But there are exceptions, and they are on this list. This is one of them and it is the best. I especially love that they managed to actually get the “toasted” flavor into this bean, which lifts it out of the muddle and onto the top of the heap. This is the best jelly bean, full stop.
Harry Kane: I know we’ve been worried about Harry Kane lately. I still think there’s reason to be worried, but this match certainly helped assuage those concerns. Six shots, four on target, including that absolutely amazing falling-down-on-his-face goal, plus good link-up play.
4 stars: Tangerine / Pina Colada (tie)
I couldn’t decide between these flavors so I am including both of them. Both are fruit based so they have that citric acid tang, and both have artificial flavors that actually taste something close to their natural counterparts, unlike artificial banana, cherry, and watermelon. Pina colada has a level of complexity to it, and tangerine just tastes like Super Orange.
Erik Lamela: Lamela keeps getting starts in the Premier League and he keeps ending up as one of the better performers on the team. He’s rarely the player you rely on to carry the team, but this season he’s been almost an integral cog in the machine (with extremely sharp gear teeth). Three key passes against Leicester but also two tackles, a bunch of clearances, and a whole lot of industry.
Son Heung-Min: Unlucky Sonny. Was getting into good positions most of the day but flashed a couple of shots wide and was unfairly targeted for having the front 2mm of his shoulder offside. Still, two key passes and an assist are pretty good, and his through-ball to set up Kane’s goal was lovely. On another day he scores two.
Danny Rose: Words can’t express how much I love this man. He is the God-Emperor of Tottenham shithousery and I love him for it. He also had a really nice match on the left flank.
Serge Aurier: Do I think Serge is better than Kieran Trippier or Kyle Walker? No. Do I think he’s clearly the best right back we have on the team right now? Yep. Was caught in possession a couple of times but was tasked with pushing forward and did it well. Had a goal crappily ruled out and had another couple of good crosses. This team is better with an actual RB.
Janby Alderweirtonghen: Alderweirtonghen’s back! The Belgian Bros were solid at the back, dealing with the pace of Jamie Vardy and (for the most part) the trickery of James Maddison quite well. Neither were at fault for either Leicester goal.
3.5 stars: A&W Root Beer
Another of the non-fruit exceptions, root beer is delicious and A&W is probably the best of the mass-marketed rootbeers. This Jelly Belly actually tastes like root beer, too (because, as I learned, it uses the actual A&W syrup) and not a fake facsimile. It’s great!
Paulo Gazzaniga: I don’t think having Hugo Lloris in goal over Gazinga would have meant that Spurs would’ve been appreciably better in this match. He’s not at Hugo’s level but apart from being caught a little flat on Ndidi’s disallowed goal, he was fine. Congrats on the new baby, Hugo!
Mauricio Pochettino: Honestly, I thought Pochettino set up the squad pretty nicely against a very good Leicester side, considering he was committed to moderate rotation. You can complain about putting Wanyama on instead of Dier, but after getting VAR’d out of being up 2-0, Spurs fell apart after playing objectively pretty well and I don’t think it’s really Poch’s fault.
3 stars: Lemon-Lime
There is literally nothing special about the lemon-lime Jelly Belly. It’s fine. It’s the Sprite of the jelly bean world — neutrally citrusy, perfectly anodyne. If you happen to get one in your mouth randomly you won’t HATE it but you also don’t actively seek them out. A perfect 3-star bean.
Moussa Sissoko: Tottenham had some major midfield problems, but for the most part they weren’t due to Sissoko who had a pretty decent match. Didn’t have the freedom to move as much as usual due to Leicester’s solid midfield, but was 26/30 on his passing, and most of them were of the medium-to-long variety. Defensively not as involved as you’d like (no tackles, no clearances) but it’d be hard to say he wasn’t good.
Tanguy Ndombele: You can still see the potential in his play, even as he has yet to fully realize it within the team. He’s still very clearly not Poch-fit and got dispossessed three times in midfield, but he also had four tackles, which is more than both Toby and Jan, and was at least trying progressive passes from deep. He needs more time.
2.5 stars: Licorice
Licorice in general provokes strong feelings, especially from its devotees. Frankly, Jelly Belly black licorice beans are acceptable if you like licorice, though if you like licorice you probably aren’t buying Jelly Bellies for that particular flavor. I don’t especially like licorice.
Christian Eriksen: What’s going on with him? At this point I’m just really, really confused.
Victor Wanyama: Here’s my hot Vic take: I understand the purpose of putting him on as a defensive midfielder when Spurs did. And while he wasn’t very good on Saturday and made several individual mistakes, I still maintain that as a whole the midfield looked more coherent with a DM in place than without one. (Also, Maddison’s goal was a 30-yard screamer, individually brilliant execution, and it’s super harsh to say it’s Vic’s fault.)
2 stars: French Vanilla
I continue to wonder what about this kind of vanilla flavor makes it “French,” unless “French” is code for “yuck.” I get why you need some non-fruit flavors to balance out the mixed bag but there’s a chemical quality to this flavor that takes the over-sugared blandness of a jelly bean and somehow makes it even worse.
Harry Winks: A very disappointing afternoon for Winksy overall. Was an absolute sieve defensively, letting Maddison dribble straight past him three times in the first half, all of which led to chances or half-chances for Leicester. Offensively set up Sonny for a chance but did a lot of running around and passing laterally... again. Winks has a role in this team, but not in the way he’s currently being utilized. I get the feeling that if Winks weren’t home-grown and English Spurs fans would like him a lot less than they do.
1 star: Buttered Popcorn
Ugh. No. Why?! Popcorn is good because they are crispy and salty and buttery, not squishy and cloyingly sweet. Translating popcorn to candy is an interesting thought experiment, but not when you’re using artificial flavors. Yes, sweet/candied popcorn exists, but it’s balanced out by the toothsome quality and the savory saltiness of the popcorn itself. Buttered Popcorn is the VAR of Jelly Belly flavors: somewhat interesting idea but terrible execution. Throw it in the sea.
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as bad as Buttered Popcorn Jelly Bellies.
Peanut Butter & Grape Jelly Memorial Non-Rating:
Tom Carroll gets a breather this week as we celebrate the best no longer existent Jelly Belly flavor combination ever: Peanut Butter + Grape Jelly. Individually, meh. Together, transcendent. And they are both forever gone, like tears in rain. Or Eric Dier.