A Belly Full of Jellies
Jelly Bellies, that is. A tour of the Jelly Belly factory was part of Kelsey's class study of Economics. It was really quite simple: watch many hungry parents (okay, one mama in particular) race to the Jelly Belly Factory store (when said tour was concluded) in order to spend a tidy sum on, oh, we'll call it "Easter" candy. Never mind that several of the bags were purported to be filled with flavors that only she likes...
Yeah, I was ridiculous. Let's start at the beginning though, which was an hour long ride to the Factory, half of which I spent convinced I was going to get a Fastrak ticket. There was one bridge to cross on the way, and everyone mentioned using the carpool lanes. So, I did. Then I realized it said Carpools AND Fastrak. I then figured it was for carpools only if one has Fastrak. We do, but it was in Peter's Tahoe, which had been parked for hours in the Financial District.
Guess what? It really is just for carpools, and I guess they take really awesome photos of each car and decide if the tiny heads in the back seat are real or fake, and then ticket (or not) appropriately. I have just never heard of any carpool lane allowing you to avoid the payment of a toll entirely...pay it faster with something like Fastrak, but never avoid it. Live and learn!
We arrived at the factory in good time (yes, on 1 Jelly Belly Lane) and had no problems parking. Note to anyone interested in going: go early! We arrived at 9:02 a.m. and the parking lot was nearly empty. By the time we left at 10:38 a.m., it was packed to the gills.
We headed inside, snapped a few photos (sorry, about your nose President Reagan), and began the tour almost immediately. I also learned the best way to ensure there won't be a long wait is to decide to use the restroom. If there is a wait, it immediately dissipates the minute you walk away. Thankfully, there was some snafu with the number of Jelly Belly hats distributed, and we didn't miss a thing.
We went up the candy corn staircase, rounded the bend, skipped the optional photo with Mr. Jelly Belly, and enjoyed a taste of the Honey Bean Jelly Belly...pure YUM if you love honey (and I do). The tour itself lasted no more than 30 minutes, and probably would be shorter if there weren't have oodles of kids pressing their noses to look at the (sadly, not operating) Jelly Belly making machines. Unfortunately, we went on an inventory day, which meant that the factory was empty save for thousands of pounds of Jelly Belly ingredients and the equipment required to produce them.
Don't worry, JB must have known this could happen, and had monitors with videos of the entire process set up at several key points around the factory. The tour took place in a glassed-in hallway that looked down over the floor, and there was no shortage of good views of monitors or actual candy-making equipment. Nor was there a shortage of samples throughout the tour...banana (okay).and ..juicy pear (super YUM).
I am not sure if we spent more time in the factory or the store. I realized with Kelsey being distracted by the notion of possibly buying the world's largest jawbreaker, I had plenty of time to shop for the kids Easter baskets. If questioned, who wouldn't believe that I was just buying a few little treats my hosts next week, the fabulous Salty Dog crew?
Now lest you think I have lost my senses and suddenly endorse eating oodles of Jelly Bellies, most of which are made with an ingredient I detest, well...I make exceptions. I do love many of the flavors, can't stand normal jelly beans, and since we aren't huge candy eaters, I think a bit now and again won't hurt too much. The funny thing? Just as I was bemoaning how all of the flavors were only made with corn syrup, I found this mix. Oh, yes, I had to test it...and the flavors passed with flying colors. Definitely on my list.
I was ever so grateful to have those to snack on for the ride back...one vegetarian potsticker and a mug of coffee do not a breakfast (or "brefits", as Nicholas says) make. Trip to the Jelly Belly factory $44.19 plus cost of gas. The fun had with Kelsey (and, yes, getting Easter goodies)? Priceless.