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Everything is related to Naples
Number 17 in this series. Link to all items here.


Jelly Beans, Mother Teresa & Mu


I don’t think I can relate the isolated jelly bean to Naples very easily. True, there is a jelly-bean type of confection called caramelle mu or muu in Italy—not just Naples—but both forms are misspellings of mou, French for “soft,” as in some types of soft, filled sweets. That has produced a few jokes in Italian about the cow that walks into a sweets shop and asks for “Muuuuu candy.”  That sheds some light on the bovine sense of humor, but not much on the jelly-bean connection to Naples.

But what if I could connect Naples to someone who is somehow connected to jelly-beans? That would work; jelly beans and Naples would then be related perhaps in the way that distant cousins in Russian novels are—legally not very, but it sure helps the plot along. Besides, it is the only way I can work in the story that follows, a tale that comes to me from Prof. Warren Johnson. I am truly indebted to him for this. It made me feel good and I hope it makes you feel good, too. As a preface, know only that there is, indeed, a real Mother Teresa connection to Naples. There is a square named for her, and her Sisters of Calcutta do benevolent work in their mission in the historic center of the city. For the rest, here is Prof. Johnson:

Mother Teresa and the Jelly Bean Caper

You'd think Jelly Beans grow on trees, so abundant are they in America. It is difficult to believe that in some places they are so hard to come by. That accounts for a phone call from the mystery woman.

Early one evening she called on the basis of advice she had received elsewhere and wondered if my wife could get her a bag of Jelly Beans. I found it amusing that anyone would treat candy as a serious subject, put the idea behind me and headed for school, a much more dignified place to be.

A few days later at breakfast, I remembered the call and wondered, "What happened to the bag of Jelly Beans? Karin confided that she got not one bag, but three bags. That sounded interesting. The mysterious lady would get one bag and we'd get two. I misunderstood the seriousness of the situation.

As it turned out, Karin had already sent the candy by express to an address in a German city just this side of Switzerland. In the middle of the night, a courier arrived in a limousine, picked up the box, and spirited it across the border to three waiting nuns who packed its contents into their carry-on bags. They were heading for Calcutta and had a flight to catch.

According to the mystery woman, Mother Teresa had developed a sweet tooth for Jelly Beans during her visit to the UN, and when the nuns asked if there was anything they could bring, Mother Teresa told them, "a bag of Jelly Beans." Karin could not leave well enough alone and sent three bags so none of the nuns would arrive empty-handed.

Michael, who was very young then, listened to the details of the caper and then asked, "Who is Mother Teresa?"  Karin answered, "She is a wonderful nun who has done great things to help the poor and will surely be called a Saint one day!"

Michael took that in and looked at his mother with adoring admiration before asking, "Does that mean you are a Saint, too?"


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