Arrived at Flag City RV Resort in Lodi, CA, yesterday afternoon after an uneventful drive of 208 miles. This is a much nicer park than I stayed at in Lost Hills, and with Passport America is $27/night as opposed to $48. Since the PA discount is good for two nights, I decided to do that and relax today.
Lots of wine tasting available in the area. So is that what I did today? Nope!
I headed to the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield instead. They have free tours of the jelly bean making factory, and I always like seeing how things are made. I’ve been on enough wine making tours in my life.
Jelly Belly invented their gourmet jelly bean in 1976, and soon afterwards Ronald Reagan boosted their economy by becoming a big fan. He started meetings as governor of California, and as President with passing around a jar of Jelly Bellies. There was even a special jar put on Air Force 1, that wouldn’t “spill the beans”!
His influence is predominant throughout the factory. This portrait of him is made entirely out of jelly beans… thousands of them. Do you have a guess as to what his favorite flavor was?
The visitor’s center and store is two stories tall and the space above is filled with huge jelly bean replicas.
Of course, no pictures are allowed on the tour. I’m not sure why, since hundreds of people a day take the tour, and there’s not really any secrets we could divulge to my way of thinking.
There were lots of jelly bean portraits displayed throughout the factory. I thought they were pretty amazing.
Even though it’s blurry, I couldn’t pass up taking a shot of my teenage idol. I wonder if he ever ate any before he died.
I found the tour very interesting. There were videos on screens hanging from the ceiling at all the stops along the way that explained the history of the founding family and the actual process of making the beans. My only suggestion would be that they get a cherry-picker in there and clean the windows of the viewing area. You are looking down on the process from the second floor, and it seems that all that sugar floating around in the air has coated the glass above the work area.
Jelly beans were first invented in the 1800’s, and got their name because real beans were a big part of people’s diets in those days. Presently, Jelly Bellies come in 107 different flavors. I’m not a big jelly bean eater, but I do remember tasting the buttered popcorn bean about 20 years ago and was shocked at how the taste certainly reminded me of popcorn. I still don’t know how exactly they do that.
We got to taste some unusual flavors along the way at several of the stations, and at the end you get a free bag of 20 different flavors to take with you. I’m saving that bag for some friends I’ll be meeting tomorrow in Nevada City. They couldn’t pick out a favorite flavor for me to get them at the factory, so they’ll get the variety.
As for me, I got a small bag of buttered popcorn, and a small bag of caramel corn Jelly Bellies. They also make chocolate candy there, so of course I got some of those. No chocolate covered sponge candy, though. I’m thinking those beans will work well as a little snack when I’m driving the rig down the road. A shot of sugar should help me stay alert. Ha ha!
Oh yeah, President Reagan’s favorite flavor was licorice…
Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later, Judy