Counting the Jelly Beans, It's Not Cheating, It's Math!

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Easter Sunday has come and gone once again, which can only mean one thing - you're about to start finding Jelly Beans EVERYWHERE for the next few months. You'll find them in your couch cushions. You'll find them under your coffee table. They'll inject themselves into your life in a way that will be hard to get away from - luckily they're so delicious that you won't really mind that much.

Easter ALSO means that you're about to start seeing more of those contents where you have to guess the number of Jelly Beans that are in a particular bowl or container. Many schools and even offices use this as a fun way to get into the holiday spirit and give people the chance to win a little money at the same time. Now, you may be asking yourself - "How does Jim from Accounting always guess the right number of Jelly Beans within like 10 beans? He does it every year! Is he psychic? Is he a time traveler? Is he cheating?"

None of the above (well, we can't rule out the time traveler thing, actually). Jim is probably just using our good, old friend "Math" to his advantage and now, thanks to this helpful calculation, you can, too. The following equation will give you a VERY good estimate o the number of Jelly Beans and other candies that are in a particular bowl, so long as you can make a fair guess at the dimensions. In point of fact, it's a whole lot easier than you probably think it is, too.

Now, what's say we win a little money from our friends, shall we?

The Candies

One of the most important steps to take when counting the Jelly Beans or any other candy in a bowl is to make sure you know exactly what you're dealing with. A Jelly Bean is a different size and shape than a Jumbo Jelly Bean, which itself is different from something like an M&M or even a Gum Ball. This all dramatically affects the number of candies that can fit in a container, which will definitely affect the end results.

You'll also need to know how many candies come in the type of container that is being used for the game. 930 Jelly Beans fit in a gallon, for example, while 3991 plain M&Ms fit in a gallon. 1264 Gum Balls fit in a gallon, while 1248 Peanut M&Ms fit in a gallon, and finally, 3,500 mini jelly beans (Jelly Belly size) fit in a gallon container.

The Jar

Next, you'll need to carefully consider what type of jar or container is being used for a particular game, as obviously a larger bowl can always fit more candies than a smaller jar. For the following equation to work, you'll need to consider options like:

  • Cylinder Jars
  • Rectangular Containers
  • Spherical Containers
  • Tapered Rectangular Bowls
  • Tapered Round Bowls
  • Irregular Containers

Because of these variations, you'll never be able to guess the EXACT number of Jelly Beans or other candies in the container. However, you're going to be able to get pretty darn close.

Sweet, Delicious Math

Our equation begins by first finding the volume of the container based on the shape it uses. If you're dealing with a rectangular container, the answer is simple - you just multiply the length by the width by the height. If you're dealing with a cylinder jar, things are a little different - you need to know things like the diameter across the type and the height. It's not difficult, but you do have to make sure you're calculating volume correctly or you'll be done before you started and Jim will walk away with all those delicious candies yet again.

We don't want to see that happen. Jim has had his fun - it's time for you to walk off into the sweet, candy sunset.

So let's say that your office is holding a contest where as many Jelly Beans as possible are crammed into a rectangular jar with a height of 5 inches, a depth of 6 inches and a length of 5 inches. Congratulations - you now have access to everything you need to cement your reputation as "Superior Office Candy Guesser" for all time. Take that, Jim!

Using the following calculator, all you have to do is plug in your dimensions, select your candy type and you're off to the races. Using the previously described containers, approximately 604 Jelly Beans can fit into something of that exact size and shape.

There are also a number of other calculators that you can use based on the specific jar you're working with, as well as the specific type of candy. Just mix and match based on the situation that you find yourself in and you're good to go! It doesn't get much sweeter than that, does it?