Pros: Fun tour that will delight both children and adults!
Cons: Visitor Center souvenir items on the expensive side, but what isn't?
08/21/2012 UPDATE: Just visited the Jelly Belly Factory again with some other family members. The tour was just as nice as I'd remembered, with narration, video and a free small bag of Jelly Belly jelly beans at the end of the tour. The only difference I see now is that they take a photo of you which you can purchase for about $20 at the conclusion of the tour.
Also, it is probably best to choose a weekday rather than the weekend to visit here. The weekdays are when the workers are actually there making the Jelly Belly's. When we visited on a Saturday, we saw everything, but when you view the workers there in action, it is a lot more interesting, in my opinion.
(There are now about 100 distinctively different flavors of Jelly Belly jelly beans!)
I've noticed a trend in my reviews. A lot of them revolve around: 1. food, 2. tours and 3. food tours. What does this mean? It simply means that I have a major sweet tooth, which is why we found and went to the Jelly Belly Jelly bean tour!
This was a fun tour! The Jelly Bellys tour we went to is located in northern California in a town known as "Fairfield" (midway between San Francisco and Sacramento). The tour is FREE, which I did not mind at all!
Take the kids, and watch their eyes go wide with amazement as they see the vivid colors and gigantic trays full of these tasty treats while they are being made!
The process of making Jelly Belly jelly beans is several steps long, which involves 4 layers of flavors all the way to the center of the bean and a glossy exterior finish. The entire tour lasts about a half hour. (I understand there
is also a tour at their Wisconsin plant.) You are also given a brief introduction on the history of the 'birth' of the jelly bean and how it has become what it is today.
At the end of the tour, you are given a small complimentary bag of Jelly Bellys, another nice little benefit! Of course, as with food tours, you can also shop at the Visitor Center to purchase Jelly Bellys and Jelly Belly souvenir items to you heart's content. Also served for a tidy price are Jelly Belly shaped hamburgers, and Jelly Belly shaped pizzas in their snack area.
Available at the Factory/Visitor Center but not at stores which sell Jelly Bellys, are "BELLY FLOPS", which are the Jelly Belly "rejects". The only difference with Belly Flops is that their shape is not perfect. The wide assortment of flavors are still intact.
The Visitor Center is also decorated with an art gallery complete with life-sized mosaics of famous people made entirely out of Jelly Bellys! They look like intricately tiled designs, but they are composed only out of Jelly Bellys! (Of course, ex-President Ronald Reagan is represented here, because of his well-publicized fondness for this confection. In fact, we learned that the blueberry flavor was created especially for him at his inauguration to make the flag of the United States.)
What sets Jelly Bellys apart from your average joe jelly bean? The FLAVORS!
There are 40 "Official Jelly Belly Flavors". There are of course, your "normal ho-hum" flavors, such as Cherry and Black Licorice, but Jelly Belly's go way beyond these. Not only do they make Lemon, but also Orange Juice, Chocolate Pudding, Peanut Butter, Cream Soda and Watermelon, to name but a few! They even have a "Buttered Popcorn" flavored Jelly Belly! You have got to try it to believe it! It's really good and yes, it does taste like buttered popcorn!
Jelly Bellys makers recommend eating them one at a time to savor their unique flavors. I recommend this also. They also have "recipes" in which you eat two or three Jelly Bellys in different combinations to produce a "unique gourmet treat" for your taste-buds.
One example is given in this order: first eat a Top Banana Jelly Belly, + a Cream Soda Jelly Belly + a Coconut Jelly Belly which = a flavor much like Banana Cream Pie! Hard to believe? Well, try it for yourself! Even if you don't completely agree with the results, you'll have fun trying.
Jelly Bellys are smaller and softer than your average jelly bean. Truth is, I'd never been a big fan of jelly beans in general, but Jelly Bellys are really much more preferable. There is also no fat in a Jelly Belly. They boast of using only natural ingredients and the Jelly Belly name is printed (in tiny letters) on each and every bean!
The people at Jelly Belly have also taken into account that there are those of us out there who need to watch our sugar intake. YES, now available: a SUGARLESS version of these yummy delights in all the same flavors!
For driving directions to both their California and Wisconsin tours, visit their web site at:
or call their toll free number at: 800-953-5592.
Hope you enjoy this delightful tour as much as we did!
(I moved this review to it's own new category, after kindly being informed of this by DiverPam...thanks Pam!)