History, fun, art, and “Belly Flops”. Jelly Belly factory tours offer much more than a mouthful of jelly beans.
Who doesn’t like a good Jelly Bean? Even President Ronald Regan loved jelly beans, especially Jelly Belly’s. Located in Fairfield, CA, the Jelly Belly Factory is a working candy factory, open for free tours. On a recent trip to visit family in the Napa, California area, we stopped and met up with my cousin and grandmother, who I call, “Nana” to take the kids on a tour of the factory. I’m not sure who was more excited, my Nana or my son.
We arrived at the factory in the early afternoon to a large parking lot with great signage to help you find your way leads you to the front doors. When we first walked in, we were greeted by an employee conducting taste tests on the latest flavor (Tobassco Sauce). My kids and I declined that flavor. My Nana gave it a try and it was definitely HOT! We checked in for the tour and were told to head over to the “tasting bar” to get some samples of any of the flavors we wanted. Check out their list of flavors.
After trying a few yummy Jelly Belly’s, we were ushered upstairs to begin our tour. We started in the “portrait gallery” where portraits of various famous people were created using Jelly Belly’s. It’s honestly quite a sight to see. Our tour guide gave us some instructions to refrain from taking photos on the tour, hence, the scarcity of pics to accompany this article. We were also given some nifty hats and instructed to keep them on during the tour. Surprisingly, the kids actually did keep them on.
After a few quick instructions from the tour guide and a group photo (available for purchase at the end of the tour), we were off. We were there on a “production day”, which means we saw a lot of Jelly Belly in the making. We could also smell the various flavors. Since Jelly Belly uses natural ingredients for the majority of their beans (including real chocolate for the Cocoa flavor!), it tickled our sense of smell to just be there on the tour.
The tour begins with a bit of history of the family who started Jelly Belly and about Jelly Belly becoming a favorite of President Reagan when he was still Governor Reagan of California. We also found out that Jelly Belly created a new flavor of Jelly Belly jelly bean for his inauguration in order to have a Red, White and Blue variety.
After the history lesson, we got to explore the stages of Jelly Belly creation and see the workers and machines in the factory in action. Along the way, the tour guide handed out samples at that stage in production that we were learning about.
Overall, the tour took about 40 minutes. I do not think the kids entirely understood what was going on, but it was nice that it was a production day so that we could witness the creation of Jelly Belly jelly beans. If no one was working on the factory floor, the tour might have been a little boring for kids.
Once we finished the tour, we were handed a decent-sized bag with a variety of flavors of Jelly Belly’s and ended in the gift shop. Halloween was around the corner the day we visited, so I found the prepackaged bags to give away to trick-or-treaters and let the kids explore the various items in the gift shop.
My impression of the Jelly Belly factory is that it’s a great stop on the way to the Bay Area or on the way home from the Bay Area, especially if you can go on a “production day”. Jelly Belly’s are, in my opinion, the best Jelly Beans money can buy, so it’s worth the stop to learn more about why they are so yummy. I personally appreciate them so much more now after visiting the factory.
Where: Head west on I-80 towards San Francisco. Take the West Texas Street Exit in Fairfield, CA. The factory is about 3-3.5 hours from Reno.
What: Jelly Belly Factory Tour.
Need to know: Production days are typically only week days and may be closed on some holidays. Check out their website for a detailed calendar.
Extra Extra: Did you know that Jelly Belly doesn’t just make Jelly Beans! We were surprised to find out they make several other kinds of candy, including fudge. Website/Contact Information: Jellybelly.com