PLEASANT PRAIRIE — You might think it’d be tough to swat away jelly beans that are speeding toward a soccer goal behind you. And you would be right.
One of the most colorful places in Kenosha County to visit is the Jelly Belly Candy Co. fulfillment center, store and tour — the latter recently enhanced with the new museum-like Jelly Belly Station.
The 100,000-square-foot Jelly Belly center, which sits on 46 acres at 10100 Jelly Belly Lane (just off Highway 31, near Highway 165), is a former distribution center for the company. The center now performs online fulfillment — in addition to housing the store and tour, which the company says draws more than 150,000 visitors each year.
The Fairfield, Calif.-based company upgraded the Jelly Belly train tour in July with updated high-definition/4K videos on new HD monitors that show the entire candy-making process. New audio equipment in the train cars creates surround sound for the passengers.
The tour now begins with a visit to the second-floor Jelly Belly Station, a new 3,300-square-foot area. In the waiting area are three large, framed jelly bean mosaics including one of Harry Potter and another of Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Typically the mosaics, by Jelly Belly Artist-in-Residence Kristen Cumings, are made with more than 12,000 jelly beans each, the company says.
Likely the biggest attraction for many children at Jelly Bean Station will be the Bean Blitz game. The player stands on a square on the floor, watching a screen that makes the player a soccer goalie. Then, on the video screen the jelly beans start flying toward the net, and it takes quick reflexes to knock them away as a scoreboard records the saves and scores.
“Kids love the game,” said tour guide Kelli Scoggin. They often play in teams, she said.
Next up are the six “smell stations.” At each, the visitor holds down a large, red button to release the mystery fragrance, then tries to guess the bean flavor. Each station has a written hint — a couple of which make guessing the flavor a bit too simple.
Ronald Reagan wall
One entire wall inside Jelly Belly Station is devoted to the late U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s famous love of Jelly Belly jelly beans, which he started munching to help him quit pipe-smoking.
Over the years Reagan maintained a relationship with then-Jelly Belly Chairman Herman Rowland, who gave him many jars of the candies over the years.
Scoggin said that for Reagan’s 1981 inauguration, Jelly Belly added the blueberry flavor so Rowland could send the president a jar of red, white and blue jelly beans. Rowland also sent 3½ tons of Jelly Bellies to Washington, D.C., so Reagan’s team could hand them out as favors.
Hanging on the wall, for example, are four framed thank-you letters to Rowland: three from Reagan and one from First Lady Nancy Reagan.
The letter that President Reagan wrote on Jan. 18, 1989, ended with, “Thank you for making my job that much sweeter.”
The wall, labeled “A Presidential Journey,” is popular with adults, Scoggin said.
An adjoining wall tells, in words and pictures, the history and highlights of Jelly Belly as a company that Gustav Goelitz started in 1869 in Belleville, Ill., at age 24.
The second floor also includes a display of old jelly bean-making equipment. And there’s a central tasting station where visitors can try, first, a cotton candy-flavor center, the start of a bean; an Orange Crush engrossed bean, the second step; and coated licorice bean.
Even then, Scoggin said, the company’s beans aren’t finished until every one has been stamped with the name Jelly Belly.
The free tours are offered daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. except for New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. No reservations are required.