The deeper we get into the very flawed and dysfunctional Obama presidency, the more «Louis» realizes what a good president Ronald Reagan was. A humorous aside to Reagan's terms of office, both as Governor of California and as President, is his enjoyment of Jelly Belly jelly beans. Having never visited the Jelly Belly factory, and knowing they have a tribute to the late California governor and U.S. President, «Louis» piloted the Vachemobile to Fairfield, California to visit the factory and see their displays honoring Mr. and Mrs. Reagan.
The Jelly Belly jelly bean company's beginnings are traced back to a family named Goelitz. In the 19th century, two young Goelitz brothers emigrated from Germany to make their mark in America and set the family on its candymaking course. In 1869, just two years after arriving in America, Gustav Goelitz bought an ice cream and candy store in Belleville, Ill., and his brother, Albert was sent out in a horse drawn wagon to sell their sweets to nearby communities.
Then the second generation of the family jumped on the band wagon of candy innovations by making a new type of candy, then called "buttercream" candies, including Candy Corn, a sweet Goelitz has made since about 1900. These candies carried the company through the Great Depression and two world wars. Today, the great-grandsons of Gustav Goelitz, the fourth generation, are still carrying on the tradition of making candy.
The candy making family migrated from Illinois to Oregon to Oakland, California. It was from their Oakland plant that they sprang to fame, in no small measure because of then Governor of California and future president of the U.S., Ronald Reagan.
The exact history of how jelly bean candy came out is somewhat vague, but the outline (as provided by Jelly Belly) is as follows:
The great-great jelly bean ancestor first appeared in the 1800s, but jelly candies of one kind or another have been around for thousands of years. "Turkish delight, " a citrus, honey and rose water jell, has been putting smiles on kids' faces since biblical times.
When the penny candy craze came along in America during the late 1800's, candy makers began experimenting with sugar candies. The jelly candy inspired by Turkish delight was shaped into a bean and given a soft shell using a French process called "panning". The first jelly bean was created by an American candy maker whose name has since been lost in time.
Although the penny candy boom waned a bit when America fell in love with chocolate in the early 1900's, there was a real chocolate shortage when most chocolate went to overseas troops during World War II. So, patriotic Americans once again discovered their urge for non-chocolate sweet treats like common, candy store jelly beans.
In 1960 along came 19-year-old Herman Goelitz Rowland, Sr., fourth generation candy maker who planned to carry on the family candy business. The times were lean for his family's Oakland, Calif., business which was best known for making candy corn. In a leap of faith that boggles the mind today, Herm and his family decided to expand and begin making jelly beans, Chocolate Dutch Mints®, America's first gummi bears, and jells. Giant jelly beans, regular jelly beans, miniature jelly beans, all sorts of styles were pouring out of the candy factory. The extra touch that became a signature for the company were jelly beans with flavors cooked into the center and in the shells using the very best ingredients regardless of cost — simply terrific tasting jelly beans.
In 1967 some of those beans managed to catch the attention of the Governor of California, Ronald Reagan. Throughout his two terms in office, the Governor ate Herm's jelly beans and ultimately wrote that famous letter saying "we can hardly start a meeting or make a decision without passing around the jar of jelly beans." (You can see a replica of the letter at the Jelly Belly Visitor Center).
Back in 1976, David Klein had an idea for a jelly bean made with natural flavorings. So he called up Herm at Jelly Belly (formerly known as Herman Goelitz Candy Co.) and an historic collaboration began.
Creating "true-to-life" flavors was, well, a natural evolution. The candy makers cooked up a recipe for a new kind of jelly bean -- intensely flavored in the style Goelitz had developed with flavors in the shell and in the center, this time using natural ingredients for flavoring whenever possible. In 1976 the first eight Jelly Belly flavors were born: Very Cherry, Lemon, Cream Soda, Tangerine, Green Apple, Root Beer, Grape and Licorice. Funny enough they are still some of the most popular flavors made.
The new style Jelly Belly beans were sent to Ronald Reagan in his regular shipment to the state Capital and later in the many years after he left that office. Then the Governor became the President. Ronald Reagan made Jelly Belly beans a staple in the Oval Office, on Air Force One and Marine One after he was elected president.
President Reagan's passion for jelly beans inspired Blueberry flavor, which was cooked up so he could serve red, white, and blue beans at his inaugural parties. Diplomats and world leaders clamored to have Jelly Belly beans. And guess what? Jelly Belly was also the first jelly bean in outer space. Free floating, weightless Jelly Belly beans were sent on the space shuttle Challenger in 1983 as a presidential surprise for the astronauts. Coincidentally it was the same mission that boasted another bit of history -- the first American female astronaut, Sally Ride.
Today, Jelly Belly is the world's #1 gourmet jelly bean, the bean of choice for all those with the most discerning taste, and made in 50 official flavors and a dizzying array of new flavors, special collections and wacky flavors.
The factory has several portraits of President and Mrs. Reagan, all made with Jelly Bellies. President Reagan's famous sunny optimism comes through in these portraits.
-- • • • --