Did you know that Very Cherry is the most popular flavor of Jelly Belly jelly beans? Did you know that each bean “shell” is actually made of four layers of flavored syrups and sugar? And did you know that every bean, even the white ones, is imprinted with the Jelly Belly name? You can learn even more Jelly Belly trivia and see this sweet treat in all stages of production when you take the FREE factory tour in Fairfield, California. Located about an hour's drive north of San Francisco, and 45 minutes west of Sacramento, the Jelly Belly Visitor Center also houses a giant gift shop, café serving bean-shaped pizza, burgers, and other foods, and an endless FREE jelly bean sample bar.
During the 40-minute guided walking tour (unfortunately, no cameras allowed), you’ll get a bird’s eye view of the real working Jelly Belly factory where over 150 different sweet treats are cooked, colored, cooled, sugared, sorted, and packaged for distribution throughout the USA and 46 countries. As you look down on all the action, you’ll be dazzled by the rainbow of colors everywhere— multi-hued trays of beans “drying” and huge stainless steel vats “engrossing” the beans with sugar coatings. The manufacturing floor is literally stuffed with bright “eye candy” in all directions. On weekends when most of the candy makers and machinery are not working, tours continue and video monitors show you the different steps of the famous candy making process. It’s fun and fascinating. If you’re wondering what happens to the jelly beans that fall on the floor, you’ll be happy to know that local pig farms get those sweet treats, so nothing is wasted. The Jelly Belly beans that come out of the machinery in a weird shape or color get sold as Belly Flops.
Although the original eight flavors of Jelly Belly brand jelly beans was introduced in 1976, the company’s history dates back to 1869. Just two years after arriving in America from Germany, Gustav Goelitz bought an ice cream and candy store in Belleville, Illinois, and his brother, Albert was sent out in a horse drawn wagon to sell their sweets to nearby communities. The Goelitz candy company survived through the Great Depression and two world wars, thanks to the penny candy boom and their original Candy Corn that is still sold today. Over the years, new candies such as America's first gummi bears were added, and in the 1960s, along came jelly beans. The key to such terrific tasting beans is the "true-to-life" flavors cooked into the center and in the shells. Jelly Belly beans are intensely flavored with natural ingredients whenever possible.
You might recall that Jelly Belly became the favorite candy of Ronald Reagan, who eventually made the beans a staple in the Oval Office and on Air Force One after he was elected president. Jelly Belly was also the first bean in outer space, hitching a ride on the space shuttle in 1983. Coincidentally, it was the same mission that boasted the first American female astronaut, Sally Ride. Today, Jelly Belly is the world's number one gourmet jelly bean, made in 50 tasty flavors. Well, most of them are tasty. You can actually buy BeanBoozled beans that taste like pencil shavings, moldy cheese, rotten eggs, canned dog food, and more—if you dare. And, yes, these unusual flavors are included in the free sample bar, too, so Bon Appétit!
IF YOU GO
1 Jelly Belly Lane
Fairfield, California 94533
The Jelly Belly Visitor Center is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM PT, and FREE guided factory tours operate daily from 9 AM to 4 PM PT, except New Year's Day, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. No reservations needed; all tours are first-come, first-served and take place about every 15 minutes.
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