A few weeks ago we did a day trip to a Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield. Jelly Belly Factory is the home and the headquarters to one of the most famous candy in the U.S.; Jelly Beans. Jelly Beans are small, bean shaped sugar candies which come in many different tastes. Jelly Belly Factory is located only about an hour drive from San Francisco, in Fairfield, and is a great place for a quick visit for example on a rainy day. And the best part is, that visiting it is completely free!
JELLY BEANS ARE BORN
The history of Jelly Beans go all the way to year 1869 when young Gustav Goelitz opened his first candy store in Illionois. Jelly Beans were born in 1960s when Gustavs grand kids were testing new candies and tastes. At the same time the famous Candy Corn candies were born which are especially eaten here in the U.S. at Halloween. In 1966 Ronald Reagan, who was the governer of California at the time, tasted Jelly Beans and liked them very much. So much in fact, that he wrote a letter and mailed to the factory, saying that they barely held a meeting without Jelly Beans offered. Jelly Beans published some new flavours like Root beer, Licorice and many others in 1976, and they instantly become a hit. By 1980 they already had 40 official flavours which are all still sold today too.
The last push for the Jelly Bean fame came when the President Ronald Reagan ordered 3,5 tons of candies to his inauguration in 1981. Five years later the company started a major construction project, and built the candy factory to Fairfield, the one that we just visited. At that time the manufacturer was still known as Herman Goelitz Candy Co., but the name was later changed into Jelly Belly Candy Company. They also opened another candy factory to Wisconsin, on the other side of the country.
Today one can find Jelly Beans from almost every store in the U.S.
THE FACTORY TOUR WITH KIDS
The factory tours are done in both factories; in Fairlfield and in Wisconsin. Fairfield factory is also the company headquarters. The visit to the factory was a great experience, and I was actually there already for the 3rd time. Right when you walk in you will see the factory store and a waiting area for the tour. Tours go often, so we didn’t have to wait for long in a line. The earlier you get there, the less there is people and less of a line.
In the beginning of the tour the guide is there to tell you how it works, and shows you a short video. You will also receive some samples of the candies. Then you are free to walk through the factory on your own paste. The tour starts with a group photo with the Jelly Belly mascot, and the photos can be purchased at the end of the tour. After that you will see what happens at the factory. They will do everything from candy making to colouring and packing them. On the walk you can stop and see videos about how the candy is made or about the history of Jelly Bellies. Or you can read it from the wall cards. They have also taken the smallest members of the family into a consideration, and there are two sets of windows in different hights. And you can go in with a stroller if needed.
In my opinion the funnest part of the whole tour was the “Jelly Belly Smell Station”. Different Jelly Beans of course taste and smell different, and one can challenge herself here to match the right smell to a right flavour.
At the end of the tour everyone got a small bag of Jelly Beans and Bean Boozled box. Bean Boozled was a surprise for us since it was not an original candy box. There were a set of identical looking candies in the box, and the other one with a normal flavour and another with some yucky flavour. We tried dead fish, tooth paste, dog food and Minion farts. Quite gross! Another similar candy box that they have is with Harry Potter theme. Enjoy!
LUNCH AT JELLY BELLY STYLE AND THE GIFT SHOP
Since we left home early, we hadn’t had lunch yet. This time we decided to eat the Jelly Belly Factory since it was raining and we didn’t want to drive around finding a restaurant. And we were hungry already. I was surprised to see that they had a lot to choose from; everything from salads to sandwiches, soups and burgers. I was debating wether to get a salad or bean shaped pizza, but ended up ordering a burger after all. They had some nice, fresh condiments so one could fill out the burger yourself, and everything looked fresh and tasty. Nice!
After eating we headed to the gift shop. One have to get some candy after all while in a candy factory! They also have a Sample Bar at the gift shop where you can taste different candy flavours. Everyone gets to choose three flavour they would like to try. I tried some more exotic flavours like Strawberry Daiquiri, Mojito and Peach Bellini. We also got some fresh fudge from the Chocolate Shoppe. So yummy!
We had a fun day the Jelly Belly Factory, and especially the kids liked it. This place was actually on our older daughter’s wish list, but we all enjoyed the visit. So if you are visiting San Francisco or the Bay Area, this isn’t a bad way to spend few hours!