Have you ever heard of Mexican Jumping Beans? If you are an adult you may have even have had them as a child. I remember my uncle bringing me Mexican Jumping Beans from Guatemala when I was a child. I kept them at my grandmother’s lake house and they sat in desk off the breakfast nook. You could hear them ‘jumping’ from across the kitchen. They were fascinating but I never knew a lot about them. Like, why they jumped or how? Now that I’m adult, I’ll admit I forgot about those old Mexican Jumping Beans sitting in my grandmother’s lake house, which is now long gone. That is, until a few days ago when Jennifer Shorter posted on Grandpa Shorter’s Facebook page that the Mexican Jumping Beans had arrived! After that, several local friends posted about stopping into Grandpa Shorter’s and getting them and for their kiddos.
I had no idea how popular and kitchsy Mexican Jumping Beans were so I headed downtown to Grandpa Shorter’s on Friday afternoon, to see them myself. Upon walking in the store you can immediately hear them ‘jumping’ and it’s a hoot! Seriously, you walk in the front door and all you hear is the clicking and jumping, even with guests walking around the store chatting. The Mexican Jumping Beans sit on the counter, next to the check out area, waiting to be chosen and my kids were enthralled. I brought 3 small boxes home and now you can hear them ‘jumping’ from the living room.
After picking out a few boxes of beans to bring home, I received a pamphlet with some information regarding Mexican Jumping Beans. Did you know that Mexican Jumping Beans are not actually a bean? They are a shell containing the larva of a small gray moth called the Jumping Bean Moth. The larva throwing itself against the nut’s walls is what makes the beans ‘jump’. Jumping Beans do not require food or water but they do enjoy the occasional mist of water to extend their life.
A few stories and details from Jennifer Shorter about Jumping Beans and their long history with Grandpa Shorter’s:
- According to Jennifer Shorter Jumping Beans are a crop, and are subject to the whims of Mother Nature, we have not always gotten our shipments. There are years of excess rain, drought, and hordes of hungry caterpillars that have led us to not get our jumping beans. We usually receive them in August and have them for a few weeks before they are sold out. Without fail, we are asked weekly, year-round, for Mexican jumping beans!
- When my Dad was a kid, the beans came into the store in coffee cans. A customer would dig in and pick out their favorite beans for purchase.
- At some point they switched to the little plastic cases they come in now. (and how I remember them during my childhood). My brother, Ryan, and I loved it when our parents would bring home beans for us!!! It was so exciting, and my daughter, Kaitlyn, age 14, gets excited the same way every year!
- Ryan and I would have races (draw small circles on a piece of paper and put your beans inside.First bean outside of the circle wins).
- One year I opened my window and put the beans outside on the ledge and shut the window. More than likely because their click-clacking was too loud at bedtime. A few months later my Mom was washing windows and found the box of now frozen beans. She put them inside and a couple of hours later went to investigate a strange clicking sound coming from my room. The beans had thawed and started jumping again!
So there you have it, if you are looking for something fun and unique for the kids are just want to take a walk down memory lane, head into Grandpa Shorter’s this week or give them a call at 1-866-SHORTER and reserve your Mexican Jumping Beans because they won’t be here for long!