Jelly Belly by Dominic Baker

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This week, Aestheticons’ contributor, Dominic Baker, delves into the sweet world of jelly beans to celebrate an icon loved by many, including the odd President of the US – no not that one! 

“Jelly Belly” is one of those instantly recognisable iconic brands that has spanned generations. I’m sure most people just don’t realise how old the brand is. Compared with relative newcomers to the confectionery market, the business that owns “Jelly Belly” has been going for nearly 150 years. Of course, it didn’t start life as “Jelly Belly”!

Founder, Gustav Goelitz arrived in the United States seeking fame and fortune just like so many other immigrants travelling across the Atlantic in those days.  In 1869 he formed the Herman Goelitz Candy Company and Goelitz Confectionery company based in Belleville Illinois. Then, in 1898, he was joined by his younger brothers George and Albert and they started to make candy corn, which they called “Chicken Feed” – a mix of sugar, corn syrup, confectioner’s wax and marshmallow – and it was very successful.

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In 1904 the company relocated to Chicago and, in 1913, Gustav’s son Herman moved to the West Coast of America to start his own business settling in California where the company expanded being now based in Fairfield (California, US). In 1960 they started to produce gummy bears and traditional jelly beans (already invented in the US by William Schrafft).

David Klein (a candy and nut distributor) – who originate the name “Jelly Belly” and packaging concepts – collaborated with Herman Rowland Sr. to use natural purées for the ‘mini bean’ concept and the the very first flavours to be developed and go on sale were tangerine, very cherry, root beer, liquorice, cream soda, lemon, green apple and grape. Jelly Bell bean with the hard outer shell went on sale in 1976.

In the early 80s the company was sold to the Rowland family who also acquired from Klein the “Jelly Belly” name for a consideration of $4.8m – paid in monthly instalments over twenty years – and in 1982 the Jelly Belly trademark was registered. In 2001 the company was renamed the “Jelly Belly Candy Company”. In 2008 the company launched a large production facility in Rayong (Thailand) to cater to its international markets.

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There are now over 58 official signature flavours of Jelly Belly beans in circulation in over 70 countries world wide including Root Beer, Cappuccino, French Vanilla, Pink Grapefruit, Sizzling Cinnamon, Tobasco and Watermelon. Each bean is 4 calories and contains no fat, dairy or gluten. It takes between 7-14 days to make a bean as an over all process. Over 1,600 are made every second.

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Ronald Regan, the US President in 1980 used to give jars of Jelly Belly beans to dignitaries who visited the White House – as he had enjoyed them when he stopped smoking. In 1983, he got them put onto the Challenger space shuttle and sent into outer-space! So you could say the confectionery was literally out of this world!

Now, as ever to keep pace with ever-changing market, Jelly Belly beans are being launched in all manner of different products including ‘sugar-free flavours’, organic beans, sports beans, “BeanBoozled” and the jewel collection, super sours and Harry Potter’s “Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans” – comprising flavours including sausage, black pepper, dirt, earth worm, vomit, soap and rotten eggs!

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