Mike & Ike

Mike & Ike

After reading up on the Just Born candy company for my recent review of Peanut Chews, I realized it had been ages since I had nibbled on Mike & Ikes.  I remember having long drawn-out discussions in grade school about which ones were the Mikes, and which were the Ikes.  

Speaking of the candy's name: Although I had always called them "Mike & Ikes," it turns out that the "Ike" is singular.  Mike & Ike.  Which, despite all the time I spent studying the package over the years, is something I never realized until I started doing research for this review.

These are basically jelly beans shaped like an overgrown Good & Plenty.  Two things elevate them above common jelly beans: the coating, and the flavors.  

Your basic no-name jelly bean has a waxy, sugary coating which leaves behind a terrible chemical taste.  Try just sucking on a regular jelly bean for a few seconds, and you'll see what I mean.  If you cut a jelly bean in half, you will see the coating flaking off in a white waxy powder.  I don't know why they go insane with the carnauba wax at the jelly bean factory, but I swear those things are just one length of string away from being fully functional as candles.

High-end jelly beans, like Jelly Bellys and the brand name jelly beans that flood the stores for Easter, have a much more reasonable approach to the coating.  Even so, I still feel that Mike & Ike candies have the best coating of all, being just a tip of the hat to a waxy outer layer.  

Best of all, each of the Mike & Ike's flavors harmonizes well with the others.  This is the curse of the jelly bean: it has to have a good flavor on its own, AND its flavor has to mesh well with all the other flavors in the box.  Because sometimes you just want to toss a handful into your mouth and chew, and let's not pretend otherwise.

This is a more difficult trick than you might think.  It seems like every time I try a packet of jelly beans, there's one flavor that strikes a sour, overly loud, or just plain "off" note in conjunction with its brethren.  But Mike & Ike has mastered this with their basic flavor.  

They come in a lot of other unusual flavors as well, and hopefully I'll get around to reviewing those.  The ones I have tried have not done as good a job at flavor harmonizing, compared to the original flavor.  So there's that.

The official Mike & Ike website has nothing to say on the topic of either Mike or Ike.  I gather that they are the little fellows on the retro packaging of the box I bought.  But in researching the question, I found that Mike & Ike candies were recently involved in a rather disturbing school scandal.   

When a school was illegally spying on one of its students, they captured an image of him holding up two Mike & Ike candies.  Misinterpreting these as drug pills (how could you make that mistake?) the school tried to haul him up on charges of drug dealing.  Only to learn that yeah, no, you can't spy on students at home like that.  Super creepy!