Well, it all started with three Italian candy makers named Salvatore Ferrara, Salvatore Buffardi, and Anello Pagano when they founded the "Ferrara Pan Candy Company" in 1908 Chicago. The first candy that they developed and produced was their "confetti", which in Italy is basically sugar-coated almonds. Although it is not known WHO specifically came up with the idea of "beans", or why? But it is believed that in the 1930's, the company thought that it would produce a candy that would be "All- American", thus making these candied peanuts to resemble the old famous Native American dish, (originating in the Boston, MA region, and taught to the Pilgrims in the 1620's.) Boston Baked Beans originated as a dish consisting of; a variety of beans, flavored with bacon or salt pork, and sweetened with maple syrup or molasses. The Boston Baked Beans (candy) is made using Spanish peanuts, and a process of what is referred to as "cold panning" to coat the peanuts several times with a red sugar mixture, and coats of plain sugar in between- which results in the shiny and thick red candy shell!
"Cold panning" is a process in which the roasted peanuts are placed in a large drum that rotates. Then, candy makers will add the plain, and colored sugar syrup manually in stages, to control the coating, (and check for), the proper thickness or coating of the nuts.
This same company also produced other well-known candies such as: Lemonheads, Cherryheads, Atomic Fireballs, Atomic Sourballs, Red Hots, Jaw Busters (original "Jaw Breakers"), and more!
The company is now called simply "Ferrara Candy Company", since officially merging with "Farley's & Sathers Candy Company" in 2012.
And now you know the story of these delicious "beans"!! Here is another fabulous video from the Food Network's- "Unwrapped" show on how Boston Baked Beans are made! (This is filmed at the Sconza Candy Co. that makes their version of this candy known as "Bean Heads"!)