The Tangy Tart History of Sour Apple Jolly Ranchers

The Tangy Tart History of Sour Apple Jolly Ranchers
Table Of Content

The Iconic Sour Apple Jolly Rancher Flavor

The sour apple Jolly Rancher flavor holds a special place in the hearts and memories of countless candy lovers. With its intensely tart green apple taste and chewy texture, sour apple Jolly Ranchers have become iconic over the decades.

The Origins of Sour Apple Candy

Sour candy has been popular since at least the 19th century. As the technology for artificially flavoring candy improved in the early 1900s, candy makers began experimenting with extremely sour fruit flavors like lemon and apple. The bracing shock of these sour candies was a big hit with customers.

By the mid-20th century, sour apple was becoming a well-known candy flavor. When the Jolly Rancher company debuted in 1949, some of their first flavor offerings included lemon, apple, and other tart fruit flavors.

The Growth of Sour Apple Jolly Ranchers

Over the next few decades, sour apple Jolly Ranchers grew from being just one of many flavors to being one of the brand's most popular and famous flavors.

There are likely a few reasons the sour apple flavor took off:

  • The eye-catching bright green color
  • The intense sugar coating on the exterior
  • The tart and tangy green apple flavor

By the 1970s and 80s, sour apple Jolly Ranchers were a top seller and on their way to becoming the icon they still are today.

Why Sour Apple Jolly Ranchers Are So Iconic

There are many theories about why sour apple Jolly Ranchers hold such an iconic spot in candy culture.

For many Gen X'ers and Millennials, sour apple Jolly Ranchers bring back strong childhood memories. The unique flavor and chewy texture is powerfully nostalgic.

The striking green color also makes sour apple Jolly Ranchers stand out. And the intense tartness is a jolt to the senses that keeps people coming back.

This pungent flavor packs such a flavor punch that it’s almost shocking with every bite. Candy fans have come to crave that mouth-puckering sensation.

The Sour Apple Jolly Rancher Controversy

In recent years, food scientists investigated whether sour apple candy flavoring contains a small amount of benzaldehyde, a compound that gives almonds their distinctive taste.

For people with nut allergies, benzaldehyde can trigger potentially life-threatening allergic reactions. However, food safety organizations have stated the amount of benzaldehyde in sour apple candy, if present at all, is likely to be extremely small.

While this health concern has sparked controversy, most customers feel confident continuing to enjoy sour apple Jolly Ranchers and other sour candies in moderation.

Sour Apple Jolly Rancher Pop Culture

Beyond just being a nostalgic candy, sour apple Jolly Ranchers have made their way into films, TV shows, songs, and online culture.

Sour Apple Jolly Ranchers on Screen

The green apple Jolly Ranchers have made cameo appearances in shows like Breaking Bad, where Jesse gifts his girlfriend’s son with the iconic green candy. They’ve also shown up in the sitcom New Girl and many other shows.

Movies have also recognized the classic flavor, like the comedy Superbad which features cops obsessing over confiscating a character’s sour apple Jolly Ranchers.

Sour Apple Jolly Ranchers in Music

In pop culture, Katy Perry’s song "California Gurls" famously name drops sour apple Jolly Ranchers. Rap songs also like to drop the iconic candy's name as a symbol childhood nostalgia.

Sour Apple Jolly Ranchers Online

On social media, sour apple Jolly Ranchers are the subject of endless memes and posts.

For example, many TikTokers and YouTubers have filmed videos where they do a Jolly Rancher taste test or other challenges involving the green apple flavor.

There are also endless tweets and conversations weighing in on whether sour apple or watermelon Jolly Ranchers taste best.

The Legacy of Sour Apple Jolly Ranchers

While many candy flavors have come and gone, sour apple Jolly Ranchers have remained one of America’s top candy favorites for over 70 years and counting.

With their trademark green color, sugar sandpapery exterior, chewy interior, and mouthwateringly tart flavor, sour apple Jolly Ranchers have etched themselves into the pop culture landscape.

The nostalgia and sensory blast of biting into a sour apple Jolly Rancher keeps each new generation coming back for more. As candy lovers pass their favorites down to their children, sour apple Jolly Ranchers are likely to remain an icon for decades more.


When did Jolly Rancher first make sour apple candy?

Jolly Rancher first started making sour apple candy sometime in the late 1940s or early 1950s. Sour apple was likely one of their first tart fruit flavor offerings when the brand debuted in 1949.

What gives sour apple candy its flavor?

Sour apple candy gets its tart, tangy flavor from malic acid. Additional green apple flavorings like benzaldehyde may also be used. The sugar coating on the outside balances out the extreme sourness on the inside.

Why does sour apple candy have such a vibrant green color?

The eye-catching bright green color of sour apple candy comes from food coloring. This vibrant, almost neon hue has become a trademark look for sour apple candies.

Are sour apple candies safe for people with nut allergies?

Food safety organizations say sour apple candies contain such minimal amounts of benzaldehyde, if any, that they are still considered safe for those with nut allergies. However, people with severe allergies should check ingredient labels to be safe.

What are some ways sour apple candy appears in pop culture?

Sour apple candy frequently appears in movies, TV shows, songs, and online culture. From Katy Perry name-dropping it in lyrics to endless TikTok videos focused on it, sour apple candy holds major nostalgia appeal.

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