For about an hour one recent morning, Kate, cousin Barbara, and I felt like kids again.
We found the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield, CA, (about 45 minutes west of Sacra-mento), and followed the other kids who were headed toward the building that offerred tours through the factory.
We entered the factory and were greeted by a large handful of jelly beans hanging from the ceiling. We quickly caught up with a tour group that had just left the "starting gate" on the lower level.
Our leader provided us all with these hats that "must be worn at all times on the tour."
Also, "Once we begin the tour, no one will be allowed to take photographs." This was disappointing news. "You can take photos in the lobby, gift shop area, and outside."
So, I will show you a picture of the beanies (from the gift shop) that I would rather have worn on our tour.
But, I won't be able to show you how the jelly bean centers are formed, flavored, dropped into molds, and sent through a moisture steam bath followed by sugar being poured over them.
However, I can show you one of the jelly bean "portraits" of hanging in the gallery. This is former President Ronald Reagan, who was known to always have a jar of Jelly Belly, The original gourmet jelly beans, in the Oval Office.
But I can't show you the engrossing pans (revolving drums) in which some 200 pounds of centers have shells of syrup and sugar built around them.
Nor can I show you the rotating stainless steel pans in which confectioners glaze is poured over 400 pounds of jelly beans. The beans' rotation then causes them to brush against each other, creating a high gloss finish on each one. That would have been neat to show you.
Even neater still would have been a photo of some of the 78,000,000 jelly beans waiting from 24-48 hours for the glaze to harden, which will allow the words "Jelly Belly" to then be printed on each bean.
There are some 50 Official Flavors (from licorice to Strawberry Daiquiri) available at the Sampling Station, but, like a kid, my attention was drawn to the flavors, such as, Barf and Earwax, in the photo (above).
This display for Sport Beans really sounded intriguing--I wouldn't associate the usual jelly bean with "An Energizing Jelly Bean." It contained carbohydrates, electrolytes, and several vitamins.
I also would not have associated Jelly Belly beans with weddings, but the black (licorice?) and white (French vanilla?) combination of jelly beans have been collected under this theme.
And finally, this VW seemed to fit with the Jelly Belly beans and brought many a smile to our faces as we hopped in Barbara's car and headed for another adventure.