If you’re looking for a fun activity for the entire family (including visiting relatives and friends), plan a visit to the Jelly Belly Factory. This factory of fun is located in Fairfield, California (halfway between San Francisco and Sacramento off I-80 and Highway-12). The children in the photo have just finished the tour (I enjoyed their grins and giggles throughout the tour) and are in the cafe for lunch with their parents and grandmother. Three generations of a beautiful family!
Jelly Belly Candy Company, manufacturer of Jelly Belly jelly beans (and a wide range of premium confections), is a family-owned and operated business. Herman Goelitz Roland Sr. is chairman and great-grandson of Gustav Goelitz, the family’s first candy maker. Herman Roland is joined in the business by his children and grandchildren. This means the company is in their fourth, fifth and sixth generations of candy making. Wow! That’s pretty special and why I love to support a family business!
Self-guided tours allow you to explore the ¼ mile journey with a bird’s-eye view of the candy making process. Video monitors enhance the experience offering a close-up look and explaining what happens on the factory floor.
I particularly like the fact, that the windows are high enough for the tallest person, yet low enough for the little ones.
There are also interactive exhibits and games along the tour lane. Included in your factory tour ticket you have access to the Jelly Belly Museum, which I found very interesting and the Jelly Belly Express Train Ride, a must for the kids.
Located in the visitor center, is the chocolate shop where you can watch the candy chefs create hand-made confections. When you’re ready to take a break, there is an indoor cafe and outdoor picnic area (weather permitting).
For those ages 21 and over, you can partake in the Chocolate and Wine Experience. Here you sample pairings of chocolate (from the chocolate shop) and local wines. A flight of six pairings thoughtfully assembled by staff bring out the best in both chocolate and wine. Sounds like fun for a lady’s trip or couples date night.
Of course, I had to stop at the infamous artwork of the Mona Lisa. I have had the good fortune to see the original (Louvre Museum, Paris). But this one made entirely of Jelly Bellies is amazing in her own way. Take a walk through the Jelly Belly Jelly Bean Art Gallery to see more of these larger than life (4 x 5 ft.) works of art.
It’s no secret that Ronald Reagan loved jelly beans. But did you know that back in 1966 when he was running for Governor of California, he turned to the candy to help him quit a pipe-smoking habit. The precursor to Jelly Belly jelly beans, called mini jelly beans, were his favorite.
On the campaign trail in 1980, reporters discovered the presidential hopeful was eating Jelly Belly jelly beans. The then small candy company was inundated with calls as reporters everywhere wanted to interview the company that was behind Ronald Raegan’s favorite sweet treat. To say that this catapulted the company to new heights is an understatement!
For the president’s inauguration, the company shipped 3 1/2 tons of Jelly Belly beans. The White House received regular shipments of the tasty treat throughout the President’s terms in office. Among those regular shipments were special jars bearing the Presidential Seal made exclusively for the White House.
As I mentioned earlier this is a family business. Herman Roland’s daughter, Lisa Brasher, is President and CEO. Herman Rowland Jr. (oldest son) is managing director of the Thailand manufacturing plant. Christopher Rowland (youngest son) manages various duties within the company. Grandchildren, Kayla Parkinson, Ryan Rowland, Christy Roland, and David Rowland represent the sixth generation of family candy makers.
The story begins in 1869 and continues today. As can be the case with most family businesses, there have been many ups and downs over the years, but the one principle that remains the same is to make the best quality candy!