After years of hearing glowing stories from family and friends about the Jelly Belly jelly bean tour in Fairfield California, the time had finally come for my family and I to visit the factory. It was Sunday afternoon and with much anticipation for jelly bean madness and delight we might encounter, my family entered the factory visitor center. First, we were hungry so we grabbed a bite to eat in the Jelly Belly cafe for a bean shaped pizza which was kind’ve cool and mostly tasted dandy except for the slightly uncooked doughiness we encountered toward the center of the pie.
Next we headed on up the steps to begin the highly proclaimed self-guided factory tour. The long hall appeared dimly lit and TV monitors played various clips of the factory operations and history of the business. Windows lined the long corridor where we could see where bean greatness originates on a daily basis…almost. As far as I could tell, today there was no bean greatness happening. In fact, the rows of conveyor belts and automated machinery including the robotic arms for handling your favorite fruity beans and packaging, were at a standstill. Instead I had to imagine factory workers busily moving about the factory floor and machines humming because on this day, as far I could tell there were no factory operations operating at all. Apparently, the bean factory was closed on Sunday.
All that was left of what fast became a not-so-grand bean tour was to see the many mosaics, created entirely from Jelly Belly beans, hanging on the walls and ceiling or stand and watch a video or two or three. Fun. I suddenly felt like I was watching an episode of “How’d They Do That?” on the Discovery Channel which I could have done anytime from the comfort of my own home.
With disappointment still fresh, we exited the “tour” from where the tour had begun—at the retail store. Now it was true that the retail store was open for business, so at least the Jelly Belly company was still making a profit. To me, the store appeared to be brimming with overly priced branded bean products such as a jelly bean dispenser for $30 and not including the beans to fill it. Naturally I felt like the factory experience especially had been over-hyped by a majority of online reviews I had read prior to my visit and it also appeared there was a little misleading going on (either intentional or not) by the official Jelly Belly website for failing to note their non-operation of the factory on Sunday’s (and perhaps even Saturday).
So would I recommend the tour of the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield, California? Not really, especially not on the weekend and only if you really love Jelly Belly beans. Oh well, at least the beans still tasted fruity and were mostly flavorful.
other images are my own