10 Things You Didn’t Know About Jelly Belly

These fun little candies are one of the most popular treats on earth

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Jelly Belly

Photo Modified: Flickr/LWYang

Along with Twinkies, Coca-Cola, and a handful of other products, Jelly Belly jelly beans are familiar to just about everybody in America (and most likely the majority of people on earth). These tiny jelly beans, in their dozens of flavors, have single-handedly turned what was an unexciting gummy candy into a “gourmet” product, and they’ve earned the loyal devotion of millions. But even if you eat Jelly Belly jelly beans every day (like one notable president did), we bet that there are some things you didn’t know about these little beans and the company that makes them. 

It’s Run by The Sixth-Generation Goelitz Family

Herman Rowland is still chairman of the board, and on April 1, 2015, his daughter, Lisa Rowland Brasher, who has been with the company since first starting as a customer service rep in 1982, came on board as CEO

Candy Corn Sustained the Company for Years

Candy corn is a relatively ho-hum candy these days, but 100 years ago it was a marvel of its time, and was incredibly difficult to make. All three colors of the scalding hot butter cream (or “mellowcreme”) had to be poured into molds by hand. It was a grueling and dangerous process, but Goelitz never gave it up, and it was sales of candy corn that sustained the company through the Great Depression, during which nearly 900 candy companies folded in a single year. 

Goelitz Was the First Company in America to Produce Gummy Bears and Gummy Worms

Gummy bears and gummy worms remain two of the company’s top selling products, and Goelitz was the first company to make them in America. 

Jelly Belly jelly beans Were Unique When Introduced

Photo Modified: Flickr/LWYang

When Jelly Belly jelly beans were first rolled out, they were unlike any other jelly bean. They were smaller, made with natural flavorings like fruit purées and citrus oils, were packaged as individual flavors instead of mixed together, the flavoring was mixed into the center instead of just the outer shell, and some of the flavors, which included cream soda and root beer, had never been seen before. 

Ronald Reagan Made Them Millions

When Reagan was governor of California he turned to Jelly Belly jelly beans to help him quit smoking, and soon became a lifelong fan. Seven thousand pounds were sold during his inaugural ceremonies in 1981, they were passed around during every meeting he held in the Oval Office, and he even sent them to astronauts on the space shuttle. Reagan helped Jelly Belly jelly beans become a full-fledged fad in the 1980s, and the increased demand had the California and Illinois factories running around the clock. 

They Sold an M&M’s Competitor Called JBz

Photo Modified: Flickr/Mark Baylor

From 2003 to 2009, Jelly Belly sold a product similar to M&Ms with chocolate centers coated in Jelly Belly-flavored shells. Flavors included  Raspberry, Coconut, Strawberry Cheesecake, Juicy Pear, Apricot, Cappuccino, Very Cherry, Ice Blue Mint, Cotton Candy, Top Banana, Honey Graham Cracker, Orange Juice, Licorice, Green Apple, Sizzling Cinnamon, Grape, Blueberry, Buttered Popcorn, Toasted Marshmallow, and Tutti Frutti.

Today There Are 50 Official Jelly Belly Flavors

Photo Modified: Flickr/Stefan Schausberger

All of the original flavors are still in production, along with 42 others. These include Mixed Berry Smoothie, Island Punch, Dr. Pepper, Pomegranate, Piña Colada, Strawberry Cheesecake, Toasted Marshmallow, and the most divisive flavor of all, Buttered Popcorn. 

There Are Many Discontinued Flavors

Just like with another beloved food company, Ben & Jerry’s, not every flavor works out. Discontinued flavors include Honey, Apricot, Blackberry Brandy, Caramel Apple, Grape Jelly, Irish Crème, Jalapeño, Peanut Butter, Papaya, and Guarana. Sadly, the days of combining Peanut Butter and Grape Jelly jelly beans are over. 

There Are International-Only Flavors

Want to try Green Tea, Guava, Lychee, Passion Fruit, or Cherry Blossom-flavored Jelly Belly jelly beans? You’ll have to leave the country, unfortunately. 

The California Factory Was Named the Best Factory Tour in America

Photo Modified: Flickr/Kim Scarborough

The Jelly Belly plant in Fairfield, California, gives free daily tours in which guests can witness the candy being made, watch videos about the manufacturing process, see some jelly bean art (a portrait of Reagan made entirely with Jelly Belly jelly beans, for example), and try some free samples. It was named the “Best Factory Tour in America” by Reader’s Digest in 2005.