Popular Jolly Rancher Flavors, Ranked Worst To Best

The Jolly Rancher moniker is pretty random, when you think about it. Neither descriptive of the shape or the flavor of the candy itself, how did anyone stare down the small tubular delicacy and think of such a name.

According to History of Candy, the origin story of the name "Jolly Rancher" is actually pretty simple: in 1949, Bill and Dorothy Harmsen thought it would elicit friendly and distinctly western vibes, making their candy distinct and attracting consumers. And, seemingly since the moment they pulled the trigger on that name, their instincts have proven correct. Who doesn't love the quick sugar hit and blast of flavor that comes from popping in a Jolly Rancher?

There's no real question that the name worked and the concept itself continues to be pretty darn popular. In fact, the only thing left to really wonder about today is, when you crack into a bag of Jolly Ranchers, where do you begin? There are an awful lot of flavors, after all, so how do you know you're getting the best? We've got you covered. Read on for a definitive ranking of the most popular Jolly Ranchers flavors, listed in order from worst to absolute greatest.

14. Cinnamon Fire

By name alone, this could be a winning Jolly Rancher. Cinnamon fire?  While perhaps slightly redundant, it gets the point across. This Jolly Rancher is genuinely hot, spicy, and has no qualms about anyone knowing exactly what it is. 

Unfortunately, if we were to offer any advice on this flavor, it would be to keep specifics to a minimum. It's a deep rouge, so could easily pass as something berry — and maybe, if the color reflected a sweet flavor, that would result in more people giving it a chance. Because, although the name is absolutely interesting, it's simultaneously a warning flag. After all, do we really want a cinnamon-flavored Jolly Rancher? We already know to steer clear of this bad boy, which can be a bit more than what we or anyone else really wants from what's normally a thoroughly sweet treat. 

Jolly Ranchers do a lot of things well. Sweet? Check. Long-lasting? Double-check. Do they need to do any more than that? No, not really. So, why the addition of cinnamon and heat? When we unwrap the signature plastic casing that twists around the candy, we are not looking for anything more than exactly what we've come to expect. And we certainly are not looking for a glorified Hot Tamale. 

13. Orange

Not to be rude, as we're sure the orange Jolly Rancher flavor is trying its best, but this is a variety that we simply did not need from the small sticky candies. Orange? The taste triggers vivid memories of pulpy orange juice, vitamin C gummies, and the Emergen-C drinks that we ferociously chug every fall cold season. Now, it's not that the orange flavor is bad — in fact, it arguably tastes too accurate to its orange candy predecessors. It's just that, when we are looking to indulge in a Jolly Rancher, we're not looking to be reminded of sick afternoons, daily morning rituals, or potentially futile attempts to stave off a cold. 

The orange flavor can be found in the "Fruity Bash" Jolly Rancher pack, as one of five admittedly innovative flavors that The Hershey Company released with the promise that the mix would "transport your taste buds to the tropics." It pairs decently enough with its counterparts (lemon, mountain berry, strawberry, and pineapple), but taken by itself, the orange-flavored Jolly Rancher is simply nothing to write home about. 

12. Lemon

Here's another Jolly Rancher flavor that is just doing simultaneously too much and not enough. Let's start with the positive, here: the "too much." The lemon flavor is ambitious, at least, taking the experience of eating one up to a semi-sweetened and elevated dessert kind of taste, if you will. It took years before our palettes were mature enough to enjoy the somewhat bitter, not at all traditional after-dinner taste of a lemon candy or other treat. Does it ever actually quench a sweet tooth? We still aren't sure, to be fair, but can get behind it as a chichi dessert option to pair with a fancy meal. 

When it comes to the category of fancy dessert options, however, Jolly Ranchers simply do not make the cut. Hence the reason that, on them, a lemon flavor is an awkward, trying-too-hard fit. The small candies are meant to be a concentrated hit of sugar — super sweet, and super sweet alone. The lemon flavor does not deliver enough on the sweet front, coming across as an imposter lemon drop more than anything else.

11. Grape

The camp is pretty divisively split on the matter of grape Jolly Ranchers, and we have to say, neither is completely in the right. Unlike its two predecessors on this list, grape is less of an experimental flavor du jour and more a classic staple. Buy a standard bag of Jolly Ranchers, and you'll surely find a smattering of grapes in there. What's more, you'll probably find them as the last remaining flavor in the bag.

But here's the thing: just because grape might be the most unpopular "regular" flavor, does not by any means make it bad, at least not outright. The anti-grape faction would insist that this artificial grape flavor tastes all too reminiscent of cough syrup (and it is made with artificial flavor, as are all Jolly Ranchers), and we would agree. The only thing is, who said cough syrup was that terrible? The flavors were arguably fairly advanced by the time most of us were shooting them back in the early 2000s, making childhood cough syrup doses perhaps not as bad as some remember. In our book, there are many things that are more objectionable than the flavor of cough syrup, though, of course, your own particular mileage may vary. 

10. Green Apple

Green apple is a flavor that, at least in our opinion, is a tad over-hyped. While it slightly edges out grape in terms of actual taste, the expectations here are much higher. In an informal poll of our friends and confidants, green apple — believe it or not — ranked as a few peoples' most favorite flavor. Now, we understand the draw here. In name alone, this flavor isn't really trying to hide anything, as it promises to be both sour and sweet in rapid succession. And it is. 

Perhaps more than any other Jolly Rancher flavor, in fact, the green apple variety is alarmingly accurate in terms of the taste it aims to emulate. While grape tastes more like grape flavoring than any variety of the actual fruit, for example, green apple truly does taste like you just bit into a juicy, crisp green apple. However, while the sour undertones might be accurate, they are a drawback in our book, taking away from what should be a sweeter experience. 

9. Lime

A second green flavor, this bad boy is more comparable to its green apple predecessor on this list than not. Both green apple and lime are more than just predominantly sweet, meaning that both shamelessly pack a tangy twist to their strong flavor profile. However, while green apple is borderline tart, the lime Jolly Rancher is more reminiscent of a far milder key lime pie than, say, biting into the actual citrus fruit. It's still definitely dessert, but with a refreshingly non-sweet edge. 

Our main point of consideration when it comes down to it with many Jolly Rancher flavors is color. It's quite possible that, in an unwrapped and blindfolded taste test, you wouldn't be able to tell one green Jolly Rancher from another (the same principle applies for some of the other flavors of Jolly Ranchers, too, while we're at it). That hardly leaves either green apple or lime with much of an interesting flavor profile when, really, you could just say that they taste "green."

That said, part of the downside for both green flavors is the weird, semi-yellowish tinge they leave on your tongue. While pink and red varieties just make your mouth appear a bit pinker, and blue and purple leave an obvious Jolly Rancher-caused dark stain on your tongue, green creates a more sickly, vaguely disturbing tint. And, unfortunately, neither the lime nor the green apple flavor is tasty enough to validate such a weird tongue color. 

8. Peach

What exactly is peach flavor? Isn't it fairly impossible to capture in candy form, when so much of what makes a peach great is its juicy, robust texture? When you strip away the absolutely stunning process of biting into a perfectly ripe peach, having it drip down your hand, and filling your mouth with its fresh taste, what are you actually left with? How can any company or person possibly distill that experience into a lump of hard sugar candy?

The answer to that series of rhetorical questions, it turns out, can be found in the first bite of any peach-flavored candy. Without the tender ripeness that is the peach itself, its flavor is noticeably muted and not all that distinct. As is the case with most peach-flavored candies, the Jolly Rancher take on it tastes like a sadly watered-down version of the fruit you could be enjoying. 

All things considered, compared to the often objectionable tartness of lemon or the weird semi-heat of the cinnamon, a more mild Jolly Rancher flavor isn't the worst thing in the world. However, if you're looking for the pang of taste that's so often unique to Jolly Ranchers, you just won't find it in the peach.

7. Mountain Berry

Where should we begin with the mountain berry Jolly Rancher? Another flavor from the tropical mix that Jolly Rancher released (along with some pretty hefty promises of amazing taste innovation), mountain berry is the first of the bunch that actually sold us on the idea. This flavor is undeniably tropical, tasting more like a refreshing berry-infused cocktail on the beach than anything else. And, no, we aren't sure what a "mountain berry" or its equivalent mixture is supposed to taste like, but that's perhaps not so important here.

Although mountain berry has a mixed berry flavor base, the predominant taste at the end of the day appears to be raspberry. We were grateful for this, as the raspberry flavor profile was noticeably missing from the Jolly Rancher lineup, and it is inherently more layered than the simplicity of an artificial cherry flavor.

The main drawback here is, of course, the color. A brownish-purple, this one is a prime mouth-staining shade that might make you look a touch diseased if you aren't careful. At the end of the day, the color is strong enough that it holds mountain berry back from ranking higher on the list, regardless of taste.

6. Strawberry

Now, strawberry is a color you will almost certainly happily dye your mouth with. A soft pinkish-red, strawberry Jolly Ranchers are a true delight in every sense. Let's start with the flavor. Perhaps it conjures up sweet memories of plodding through strawberry fields mid-June with your family, collecting a pail of the namesake fruit. Or maybe you recall chowing down on some fresh strawberries or even a strawberry-infused dessert that really made its culinary mark on your memory. 

Either way, strawberry as a flavor is iconically American and no less than a dessert essential. In Jolly Rancher form, it is undeniably sweet and absent of any tart or bitter aftertaste, while still definitely part of the crowd-pleasing berry group of flavors. And, as anyone who's familiar with strawberry flavoring knows, it is a naturally strong and distinct flavor, even with the artificial compounds used here. In fact, that may be our only qualm with the strawberry Jolly Rancher — it is generally good, but there's no mistaking it for anything else. And if you're not a strawberry fan, that may be an issue. For better or for worse, there's nothing subtle about this flavor.

5. Watermelon

Watermelon offers an ideal solution to the strawberry problem. It is just plain sweet and very much an after-dinner flavor, but one that won't knock you over with potentially cloying sweetness. In fact, like peach, the watermelon flavor almost tastes watered down (full disclosure, this could just be a placebo effect kicking in based on the mild name and reputation of the fruit). Like the fruit, which is sweet but nothing too crazy, the watermelon-flavored Jolly Rancher is purely enjoyable without making an overly memorable or striking impression. And, although oftentimes descriptors like "unmemorable" can be used as a slight, there is a definite time and place for an easygoing flavor like watermelon.

Similar to the flavor, the color is neutral as well. The lightest of the pinks, the watermelon jolly rancher is the least likely to affect a noticeable color change on your mouth after eating, assuming you're concerned about that sort of thing.

4. Fruit Punch

For us, it's really all about the fun factor where Jolly Ranchers are concerned. Cracking into a bag of Jolly Ranchers is already always a good time, from untwisting the plastic, peeling the candy out of its wrapping, and finally popping the sugary sweet treat in your mouth. It's pretty hard not to have fun when indulging in these sweet little candies. But then add in a novel flavor, and one that is undeniably childhood-centric, at that? You are in for an extra good time.

The fruit punch flavor is, basically, super fruity. It's a fairly nondescript sweet wash overall, with no single taste outweighing any of the others. We're not sure exactly where the "punch" aspect comes into play here, but honestly, we don't care. This pink, sugary icon is among the best of the Jolly Ranchers, assuming you're okay with not exactly identifying the nature of the "fruit punch" flavor. Its rarity (this flavor is part of the tropical mix that can be somewhat hard to get your hands on) only makes it better.

3. Pineapple

Pineapple is, in almost every arena, a sleeper flavor that really shouldn't be ignored. When it comes to Jolly Ranchers, it's no different. This flavor wins the spot of highest-ranking Jolly Rancher rare options on our list. And make no mistakes about it: pineapple Jolly Ranchers are really, really tough to find. 

In fact, the odds are good that you may have never laid eyes on a pineapple Jolly Rancher at all, so we'll break it down for you. The translucent white coloring shows through the plastic which, unlike other Jolly Ranchers, has purple edges where you untwist the wrapper, perhaps to give it some much-needed color contrast. At first glance, the pineapple candy almost looks like the color of watery lemonade, but as soon as you pop the sucker in your mouth it will be glaringly obvious: this particular flavor is pineapple through and through. 

As part of the tropical roundup, pineapple is definitely the most tropical tasting of the bunch. Your taste buds truly might be transported, in fact. However, if you're a pineapple candy skeptic, the flavor of this may not be entirely pleasing. Yet we love how the tangy sweetness comes along without any bitter aftertaste. While it is exceedingly hard to get your hands on, when you do finally dig into one of these, chances are decently good that you'll never want to go back to several of the original Jolly Rancher varieties.

2. Cherry

The cherry flavor is almost as classic as the concept of a Jolly Rancher itself. Somehow, it seems that, whenever we plunge our hand into a pile of Jolly Rancher candies, we're bound to come up with a good portion of the cherry variety. Truth be told, we're not even sure if we like cherry an inordinate amount or if it's just a default favorite flavor based purely on exposure. 

Yes, we've had a lot of cherry Jolly Ranchers in our day, and not once have we regretted indulging in the flavor. It's decidedly not reminiscent of medicine, though, of course, we must admit that it does use artificial flavoring like any other Jolly Rancher flavor (and, honestly, when you're indulging in some Jolly Ranchers, you probably aren't looking for the natural stuff, anyway). Instead, it tastes more like the juicy, soaked in sugar style of maraschino cherry you might get on top of a sundae than anything else. Plus, in terms of mouth staining, the red is notably more visually appealing (and sometimes even kind of cute, under the right circumstances) when compared to some of the more shocking colors in the Jolly Rancher lineup.

1. Blue Raspberry

This is it. There are no real competitors for the top spot, not when you're being honest with yourself. It's no less than the first flavor to be absolutely decimated from any bag and the one that everyone loves, fights over, and ultimately favors. The singular taste that Jolly Rancher somehow nailed, unlike any other candy. It's blue raspberry.

Other candy makers have tried their hand at blue raspberry-flavored sweets, but it's never turned out to be quite that same as what Jolly Ranchers has managed to do it. Something about the compact nature of the candy is the flavor's perfect match — it's as if blue raspberry was meant to present itself as a little log of hard candy. 

This sort of favoritism is both universally known and agreed upon. Indeed, it's a true act of love, to hand over the last blue raspberry Jolly Rancher to someone else. This flavor is tangy, sweet, refreshing, and utterly different, all at once. The truest sign of its superiority, though? The fact that so many people love it despite its admittedly crazy coloring.