My marathon running experience this morning persuaded me that jelly beans are the hot new fad in distance running. Several of the water stations around the course were offering jelly beans along with the usual water and Gatorade.
The advantage of jelly beans is supposed to be ready energy, mostly coming in the form of glucose. This unabashed food-as-fuel philosophy stands a century of nutritional research on its head. Only traces of enzymes, essential fatty acids, minerals, and protein here, and no vitamins to be found - because sometimes all you want is something to keep you running for another mile.
It remains to be seen whether the jelly bean idea will stick. The small handful of jelly beans I ate about 4 hours into the race seemed to make the next mile go a little faster, but the extra energy didn't last any longer than that. Other runners, though, seemed more convinced of the power of jelly beans, carrying a small supply of them along for the entire race. And they ran faster than I did. So there might very well be something to it.