This past week in one of my feeds I came across an article that used the term “jellybean part”. Curious, I looked it up, and after filtering out all of the Android results, this is what I found:
A “jellybean” part is a commodity part that’s cheap, widely available, and used in many different applications. The connotation being that:
- You don’t care who made it or where it came from. They’re in a jar on the table, and you just grab a handful whenever you want some.
- They’re so cheap that they have almost no value individually, and are purchased in a bag sold by weight.
I’d like to coin a related term: “jellybean content”. Jellybean content is what most journalism-ish lifestyle-y websites in 2013 offer. “35 Reasons City X Is Better” and “Ladies, Here’s What to Do When Your Crush Texts You” are content jellybeans. Sure they’re flavorful (except for the licorice ones. Fuck licorice.) But practically identical versions are available from a dozen different vendors, and individually they have a value so close to zero that the only profitable thing to do is aggregate them together into bags of 100 and sell those instead.
If you’re a Creative Professional you should probably try to avoid writing jellybean content. I will enjoy it, but I will eat it by the handful, and feel vaguely bad about myself afterwards. Should you stop producing it for some reason, I won’t even notice, because it never occurred to me that a person was responsible for it. The only time I’ll acknowledge your existence is to complain if one of the flavors changes from what I was expecting.
While writing this, I got curious about just how many types of jellybeans there are. Offhand, I couldn’t name any manufacturers other than Jelly Belly. Amazon, under the category of Grocery & Gourmet Food > Candy & Chocolate > Jelly Beans > Top Brands, by my count lists 22 manufacturers of jelly beans that each have their name on the bag but that nevertheless would be indistinguishable without that label. For no good reason, here is that list:
- Ass Kickin’
- Bertie Bott’s
- Ferrara Pan (Lemonhead & Friends jelly beans)
- Jelly Belly
- Jolly Rancher
- Just Born
- Kirkland Signature
- Liberty Distribution (Wiley Wallaby brand)
- Russell Stover
- Sunridge Farms
- Surf Sweets
- Swedish Fish
- Taste the Wilderness
- Wonka (as Sweetarts, Nerds)
- YumEarth Naturals
These are only the ones I think I couldn’t tell apart. Mike & Ike, for instance, don’t make my list. Neither do Gustaf’s Jelly Babies, because they have a coating and aren’t quite bean shaped. (I put entirely too much effort into compiling this list.) And Amazon, get your shit together. How hard is it to keep Red Pepper Jelly out of a Candy & Chocolate category?