Welcome to the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield, California! On this self-guided tour, you’ll learn all about Jelly Belly’s four-generation candy-making history, the company’s love for former president Ronald Reagan, and the secret behind how those tasty beans are made.
Jelly Belly history in brief, 1869 – 2016 (Click here to see photos matching each of these facts)
- 1869 – At age 24, Gustav Goelitz opens a candy business in Belleville, Illinois, and sets the family on its sweet destiny.
- 1894 – Gustav’s sons continue the family candy making tradition.
- 1898 – The second generation of Goelitz candy-making family specializes in a new type of candy, mellocremes (also called butter creams), which include candy corn.
- 1940s – In the midst of sugar rationing during World War II, which limited candy production, the company introduces Mint Wafers.
- 1960s – The third and fourth generation descendants of Gustav Goelitz begin making candies such as tangerine slices, spice drops and jelly beans.
- 1965 – A flavor breakthrough is made when the Goelitz Mini Jelly Beans are infused with flavor in the center as well as the shell.
- 1966 – Goelitz Mini Jelly Beans are discovered by Ronald Reagan. “We can hardly start a meeting or make a decision without passing the jar of jelly beans,” he wrote in a letter to the company in 1973.
- 1972 – Chocolate Dutch Mints debut. A creamy mint center is covered in dark chocolate and finished with a crisp, candy shell. It’s a classic now and still one of the most popular confections we make.
- 1976 – Building on the flavor innovations of the Goelitz Mini Jelly Beans, the first eight flavors of Jelly Belly jelly beans, Root Beer, Green Apple, Licorice, Cream Soda, Lemon, Tangerine, Very Cherry, and Grape are introduced.
BUILDING A BEAN
- Kettle – Each kettle holds 400 pounds of slurry.
- Slurry – Slurry is made of sugar, water, corn syrup and corn starch. It is jet cooked in a system of pipes and then deposited into large kettles. Each Jelly Belly bean starts out with the same basic slurry, before flavor and color are added, making each flavor recipe unique.
- Flavor – Inside the kettles, candymakers add color and flavor to the slurry as it mixes. In some cases, these flavors and colors come from fruit juices and fruit purees. The mixture is gravity-fed (via a pipe) from the kitchen upstairs to the mogul machine below where the jelly bean centers take shape.
- Each kettle holds enough slurry to make 200,000 Jelly Belly bean centers. That’s enough to travel to the top of the Empire State Building more than 9 times!
- At Jelly Belly in Fairfield, they can make about 800 Jelly Belly jelly bean centers per second. When they get their shells, they’ll be 40% larger than when they were just centers.
- The Jelly Belly kitchen can produce 50 tons of slurry per day. That’s as much as 16 elephants.
- 1980 – The world discovers President Ronald Reagan eats Jelly Belly jelly beans, and a star is born.
- 1980s – More Jelly Belly jelly bean flavors are developed, continuing to push the flavor horizons with an ever-growing variety.
- About 3.5 tons of Jelly Belly jelly beans are shipped to Washington D.C. for President Ronald Reagan’s inauguration celebrations.
- 1982 – Though shipping across the Northern border to Canada since 1977, Jelly Belly jelly beans make their first trip overseas to the UK in 1982.
- 1983 – Mr. Jelly Belly, a lovable candy character, makes his first public appearance – and it’s love at first sight.
- 1983 – Sent by President Reagan, Jelly Belly jelly beans become the first jelly beans in space!
I can’t emphasize enough how much the Jelly Belly family LOVES Ronald Reagan. The tour was filled with stories, audio/video, photos, and items from his Jelly Belly interactions before, during, and after his presidency. There were even official jars of special red, white, and blue jelly beans that Reagan would gift to his important guests at the White House. Not to mention all the shrine-like Reagan jelly bean art hanging in the factory, only part of which I’ve show in this blog post. They love that man.
These are just a few of the standard Jelly Belly flavors, not including special edition beans like Krispy Kreme, BeanBoozled, Coldstone Creamery, chocolate dipped, Tabasco, Sports Beans, the iridescent Jewel Collection, etc.
Smelling stations! Read the plaque, take a whiff, and guess which jelly bean flavor is inside.
“This Jelly Belly bean flavor mimics the real fruit in taste, texture and – thanks to dark sugar crystals – appearance.” (Juicy Pear)
“There are two types of this flavor on the Jelly Belly menu. One is ‘Sizzling.'” (Sizzling Cinnamon)
“Which tropical fruit has a famous upside down cake named for it?” (Pineapple)
(right) Mr. Jelly Belly chocolate candy molds
- 1986 – New company headquarters are built in Fairfield, California, and free factory tours begin soon after.
- 1989 – Buttered Popcorn Jelly Belly jelly beans debut as the world’s first “savory” jelly bean flavor. Today, it’s still one of the most popular flavors.
- 1993 – Jelly Belly Sours are introduced, a novelty at the time that has since become an enduring favorite.
- 1996 – The ultimate sign of good taste – the Jelly Belly name is stamped on every jelly bean.
- 2000 – Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, inspired by the Harry Potter series, are brought to life by the company’s candy makers in wild flavors like sardine, black pepper, booger, grass, and horseradish.
- 2001 – A second public tour opens in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin. The Jelly Belly Express takes fans on an indoor train ride to discover fun candy facts.
Jelly Belly jelly bean art!
- 2001 – The Company, known for four generations by the family name Goelitz, is renamed Jelly Belly Candy Company, and continues to make more than 100 fine confections.
- 2005 – Jelly Belly begins sponsoring a professional cycling team.
- 2005 – Sports Beans debut as sports performance chews that provide carb replenishment for athletes.
- 2007 – BeanBoozled Jelly Beans are introduced with 20 flavors: 10 delicious flavors look identical to the 10 weird and wild flavors. These pairs may look the same, but they could not be more different. Will you get a delicious flavor or a gross one? There’s only one way to find out!
- 2013 – Jelly Belly Jewel Collection, featuring Jelly Belly jelly beans with an iridescent sheen, is unveiled.
- 2015 – Jelly Belly launches a USDA-certified Organic line of candy confections, including jelly beans.
- 2016 – 40th anniversary of the Jelly Belly jelly bean.
- Jelly Belly jelly beans are gluten free, peanut free, dairy free, fat free, vegetarian friendly, and do not contain gelatin.
- All Jelly Belly jelly beans and most of the company’s Confections are certified OU Kosher by the Orthodox Union.
- Each Jelly Belly jelly bean is four calories. Twenty-five Jelly Belly jelly beans is 100 calories – you can dance off that amount of calories in about 15 minutes.
That’s the tour! Now go see it in person!