Jelly Belly: great candy, disappointing tour

“Sweet sensations and a world of delight await you at the Jelly Belly Center, a mouthwatering stop located off the I-94 Milwaukee/Chicago corridor, near the state line. The Center is designed so visitors can take a tour of our warehouse (really, it’s fun!) and taste the magic of “the original gourmet jelly bean,” Jelly Belly. ” That’s a quote off the Jelly Belly website inviting you to take a warehouse tour.

The tour is nothing more than a “train” ride around the perimeter of the warehouse about the size of a Costco. The ride stops every few yards in front of a some big screen that shows you a video covering a portion of the process of making a Jelly Belly or a bit of the company history. And while it is somewhat educational, it is all rather boring. Luckily it is all free.

Outside of the main entrance to the tour, there are signs marking the wait time. The farthest sign marks 1 hour wait time. If I had to wait 1 hour for the tour, I would’ve been extremely disappointed and upset.

So if you happen to be visiting the Jelly Belly factory, don’t waste your time. Skip the tour, skip the waiting and go straight for the factory shop. Sample some candy. Buy some bags of Belly Flops – the irregular candies that didn’t make the cut. And mark the Jelly Belly factory as another place you have visited in your travels.

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8 Responses

  1. thank you for saving me from boredom on tuesday – this was our plan!

  2. Perfect timing. Glad to be of help.

  3. That is not the tour I took. You can take a shop floor, it costs a few bucks, but it is TOTALLY worth it.
    Kids and adults put on overalls or hospital gowns, masks, gloves foot covers the whole thing. and you go everywhere, like in Willy Wonka.
    The candy corn is made in Chicago or so I was told and that is what I would want to check out.

    I did it in the Sacramento location and that was great, fresh JB from the “oven” and in all forms or process.
    Agreed that the walk around or in your case tram around is not that great, but it is free and for some that is good enough.

  4. We went to the Fairfield site in California a few years ago and had a wonderful time. We did the walk around tour – in a glassed-in hallway over the factory. We found the information quite interesting – we were especially impressed with the taffy machine. You can, indeed, pay for a tour inside the factory. One has to remember, it is a factory tour – not a place of amusement. While there are certainly fun things to see – like pictures made from jelly beans, it is a working factory. Just a few blocks from the California location is a chocolate factory tour. They make the hollow Easter Bunnies and Santas. Again, very simple, you see the molds and the machines that make the candies. I don’t remember the name of the chocolate factory, but there are signs all around the Jelly Belly factory advertising it. I would recommend both tours for educational purposes, not necessarily for entertainment. Interested in other American factory tours? Check out the book “Watch It Made in the USA.” Another great candy making experience is in Columbia, California at Nelson’s Columbia Candy Kitchen. Every year, from Thanksgiving to Christmas, they offer the opportunity for small groups to make candy canes or ribbon candy. The ability to participate is chosen by a lottery. Check out their site at: http://www.columbiacandykitchen.com/

  5. Wish I knew about the paid tour. The factory was what I was hoping to see. Maybe it is not available in Wisconsin.
    Oh well, at least I’ve got bags of the misshapen Jelly Belly candy to examine and laugh about.

  6. I think the Wisconsin site is JUST a distribution center. I had (until your entry) assumed there was more to the tour than seeing distribution.

  7. Ed,

    You right it is just a distribution center. I went there a few years ago with the family while we went up to see the Janesville GM plant tour. That was very nice for a short trip. However, the GM plant was shut down so there is no more tours. Alex, the little sampler bags are very small. The main tour is in California. If you are looking at other plant tours go to the Harley Davidson in Milwaukee. Or goto http://factorytoursusa.com/ to find other tours.

  8. Alex,

    Word of warning don’t spend time going to the Hershey Tour. It is just advertisement. I was more disappointed in that then the Jelly Belly Distribution Center.

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