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Saturday 18 April 2015

Jelly Belly Factory

During Ava and Lola's recent Spring Break we took a few short trips to places around the Bay Area that we hadn't been before. One such place that we'd been wanting to visit for a years was the Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield.

As you can probably imagine, we weren't the only people visiting a candy factory during Spring Break the week before Easter! In fact, it was super busy and we lined up for well over an hour before it was our turn to take the tour. Luckily the Jelly Belly Visitor Center has plenty for kids to see and do while one lucky parent gets to stand in the line. So while Kim held our place in the slow moving line I took the girls to see giant inflatable jelly beans, squish pennies, taste test jelly beans, view jelly bean art, and peruse the goodies on offer in the gift store.

The factory store has a huge range of Jelly Beans and other goodies on offer. The girls couldn't believe some of the flavors that we found: Rotten Egg, Vomit, Booger, Canned Dog Food, Lawn Clippings, Earwax... These horrible flavors are part of the BeanBoozled range. They look exactly like some of Jelly Belly's most popular flavors but taste, well, just a little different. They come in a pack mixed with the popular flavor so you just never know which one you're going to get until it's too late. We bought a pack but I'm a little scared to try the jelly bean that looks like Peach - it may very well be Vomit!

There were also other, less disgusting but still interesting flavors on offer like Champagne and Draft Beer. Lola loved that the Draft Beer jelly beans came in an actual beer can!

After about an hour it was finally our turn to take the tour. We were all handed paper hats to wear and made our way upstairs to a viewing platform that looks over the factory floor. Unfortunately I wasn't allowed to take photos of the actual factory, but trust me, it's an amazing place. The kids loved watching thousands of tiny jelly beans making their way along conveyor belts and being mixed in giant mixing bowls. Crate after crate of colorful little beans filled the factory like a rainbow. And the smell. Such a lovely sweet smell filled the air. We tasted jelly beans that had yet to be colored and made guesses at their flavors (Birthday Cake Remix & Wild Blackberry - no one guessed them right!). Our tour guide was full of information about the history and process of making Jelly Belly beans but there were also short videos along the way - including one which explained why there were so many pictures of Ronald Reagan around the place. Apparently he was a huge Jelly Belly fan and helped increase their popularity during his presidency.

At the end of the tour we were all given two small bags of jelly beans - even Mathilde. We then hit the store again for some more tastings and to try some of the chocolate covered bacon we had heard others talking about during the tour. Ok, Ava and Kim tried that, Lola went for a chocolate American flag and I had chocolate covered caramel and marshmallow.

And then there was our little April Fool's Day prank that we played on Kim. It wasn't much of a prank really. I took the girls to the bathroom and we all came back wearing mustaches. We certainly got a lot of strange looks!

It was then time to leave. The girls wanted a few photos out the front with the giant inflatable Jelly Belly, a jelly bean covered car and the sign at the entry way. They may have been on a bit of a sugar high by this time!

We had such a fun time at the Jelly Belly Factory. It's a great place to visit with (or even without) kids and it's just a short drive from San Francisco. The tour is wheelchair and stroller friendly, and the best part? It's free!

For more information about visiting the Jelly Belly Visitor Center and touring the factory please visit http://www.jellybelly.com/california-factory-tours

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