Why Beatles Fans Used to Pelt Members of the Band With Candy

John Lennon sometimes made provocative comments that got the Beatles in trouble, however, he once made an innocent comment about food that made things very difficult for the Fab Four. At first, fans started sending the Beatles bags of candy. Things got progressively worse from there — and may have contributed to the band retiring from touring.

The Beatles wearing suits
The Beatles | Central Press/Getty Images

Fans taking things way too far

According to the book Ringo: With a Little Help, John and George Harrison once told a magazine they liked Jelly Babies – a soft British candy. These remarks appeared harmless enough. According to The Guardian, some fans responded to them by sending boxes of Jelly Babies to the band.

However, John and George’s comments about Jelly Babies proved to be a major pain for the group. Beatles fans started pelting the Fab Four with Jelly Babies at their concerts. 

What George Harrison and Paul McCartney said about being pelted

Paul McCartney and George Harrison wearing glasses
Paul McCartney and George Harrison | Express Newspapers/Getty Images

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Ringo Starr used cymbals to deflect the flying candies. All of the Beatles were annoyed by their fans’ insistence on flinging sweets at them. According to the book The Eagles FAQ, George even expressed his frustration to a fan directly. 

“Think how we feel standing on stage trying to dodge the stuff, before you throw some more at us,” Harrison wrote to Lynn Smith, a 15-year-old fan. “Couldn’t you eat them yourself, besides it is dangerous. I was hit in the eye once with a boiled sweet, and it’s not funny!” In addition, George said in the letter that he didn’t like Jelly Babies — clearly contradicting his earlier comment.

Paul McCartney had his own issues with Jelly Babies. “Have you ever tried walking on Jelly Babies,” Paul told Life. “They’re one of the most adhesive substances known to man. Sometimes kids think I’m trying out new little dance steps when I’m really trying to get my foot up off the floor.”

How things got even worse for the Beatles

Numerous jelly beans
Jelly beans | David Paul Morris/Getty Images

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The Jelly Babies were bad enough. However, The Eagles FAQ reports some Beatles fans lived in areas where Jelly Babies weren’t available and had to improvise. Instead, they threw jelly beans at the Fab Four. This difference was substantial, as jelly beans are much harder than Jelly Babies. According to the book How the Beatles Changed the World, George said jelly beans felt like bullets when they hit him.

The practice of throwing sweets at the Fab Four became so common that Paul referred to it as a “trademark” of the Beatles’ concerts. And that wasn’t even all the Fab Four had to worry about! The book The Beatles Are Here! says fans also threw sliced bread and toilet paper at the stage.

At a press conference, Paul said he wished fans wouldn’t throw anything at him and his bandmates. In 1966, the Beatles stopped touring. According to The Guardian, it’s unknown if the Beatles’ experiences with Jelly Babies contributed to them retiring from touring. If the Beatles had a collective sweet tooth, it clearly had limits.

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