FAIRFIELD, Calif. (KTXL) — Smack dab between Sacramento and the Bay Area is the Jelly Belly Factory and Visitor Center in Fairfield and if it’s beans you want, it’s beans you’ll get.
“We’ve had almost 8 million people come visit us since we opened back in 1999,” said Vice President of Retail Operations John Jameson.
Before you fill up a bag of beans, you can take a self-guided tour where you can play fun interactive games and watch how these factory workers crank out 40 million jellybeans every day.
“We think you’re going to learn a lot about how we put a lot of care and effort into making a high-quality candy,” Jameson told reporter Melanie Townsend.
While most people will get to tour from above, FOX40 got to speak with 29-year Jelly belly veteran, Jeff Brown who spilled the beans to us on the factory floor.
“First things first while at the Jelly Belly Factory, I gotta put on the hair net then put on my smock,” Brown said.
Unlike it’s gummy bear or hard candy cousins, Jelly Belly beans are made with pectin or starch, creating that distinctive chew.
It’s mixed with sugar, corn syrup, flavoring, and more sugar to make a slurry in the jelly belly kitchen. The result is usually delicious, but that’s not always the goal .
“It’s bad, but this is a part of that bean-boozled line, and this is rotten egg, so this is really not good,” said Brown referring to the favor being made that day, part of Jelly Belly’s line of intentionally gross flavored beans. “It’s a little stinky in here!”
Tastier flavors are made with artificial and natural ingredients like chocolate bars or coconut flakes, which is mixed in with the slurry and poured into the mogul machine.
“The mogul will take a tray of about 12 or 13 hundred beans on each tray and it’ll deposit the imprint of the center of a jelly belly, the hot candy will go into that imprint, it’ll go into our curing room overnight,” said Brown. “So that’s the center of a lemon lime jelly belly before you put a shell on it. It’s still good without the shell!”
The shell is where that flavor really packs a good or bad punch. It’s made through the engrossing process where more sugar is added along with special mixtures of food coloring and flavor in rotating steel drums. Then they’re polished, dried, sifted and given jelly belly’s iconic stamp of approval.
Each bean takes 7 to 10 days to be perfected for distribution.
Out of 100 flavors to choose from, there are some that stand out above the rest like the polarizing buttered popcorn.
The factory also has a brand-new museum, showcasing 100 years of company history, its original candy-making machines and close ties to important historical figures, like Ronald Reagan.
Around every corner, there’s something sweet for everyone to discover.
“We see groups comes out, school aged groups to senior citizen groups and everything in between, I just think it’s a really neat experience to see how it candy made today,” said Brown.