My mom used to work at an ice cream factory in Omaha. She once said that you never want to see how something is made, especially if it’s something you like. I’m not a huge candy fan, but I do like a handful of jelly beans once in a while.
Lisa and I visited the Jelly Belly candy visitors center in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, and a short drive from Kenosha. The company doesn’t allow factory tours, so we couldn’t see the candy being made up close. But, we did see the process via recorded clips along the tour of the warehouse.
It was a fun visit. It doesn’t take long, maybe less than an hour for the actual tour and candy store visit. The fun starts just inside the visitors center entrance. Each guest receives a paper hat decorated with Jelly Belly colors and a pack of Jelly Belly candy.
Inside the warehouse, visitors are greeted by Mr. Jelly Belly, who hangs around near the ceilings, keeping a watchful eye on everyone, to ensure they have a good time (and keep their hats on, LOL).
The Jelly Belly Express Train actually takes visitors around to five stops, where you check out video clips of the company’s history and the candy-making process. Jelly Belly traces its roots to 1869, when founder Gustav Goelitz opened a candy business in Belleville, Illinois.
The company added jelly beans during the 1960s. Not quite yet Jelly Belly beans. California Governor Ronald Reagan wrote a letter to the company in the mid-1960s telling the company that a staff meeting rarely starts without passing around a jar of its flavored jelly beans.
Jelly Belly as a brand took off during the 1970s when the first eight flavors of the new treat came into play. They included root beer, green apple, cream soda and grape. More flavors were added during the 1980s. Today, you can get such appetizing flavors as dirt, spinach, booger and rotten egg. Yum!
The company officially changed its named from Goelitz to Jelly Belly in 2001.
The tour ends with a trip to the candy store. You can get all kinds and flavors of candy. Some you can buy in bulk. The misfit candies – the misshaped ones that can’t be sold at market – are bagged and sold at a discounted rate inside the visitors center. It beats being shipped off to the island of misfit candy.
We had a blast riding the miniature train and learning about the company’s history in a fun manner. Plus, we left with treats for family members. The Jelly Belly Visitors center tour should be on everyone’s Kenosha bucket list.