Behind the Scenes at Jelly Belly Candy Company - Part 2
By Anthony Todd in Food on Sep 2, 2010 4:00PM
When we last saw our jelly beans, they were just sugar-coated gel centers. After another rest period, the trays head out to the next stage of the process - coating. If you were to cut a Jelly Belly in half, you'd note that it formed in layers, with an inside gel layer and a hard candy coating. The hard candy coating is added by hand, in giant rotating drums.
We proceeded through the factory, away from the cornstarch in the molding rooms. We entered a large room, with giant metal kettles, tipped on their sides, lining every wall. Most of these were empty when we visited, but 4 of them were filled with bright red beans. The drums were spinning very fast - and the sound of the candies was so loud, we had to wear earplugs.
The candies spin and spin, and the candy maker adds sugar and flavoring. This is an entirely hand-made process, with no computers or instruments. The candy maker can tell by sight and touch when the beans are ready. Depending on the flavor, it can be a trying process - the cinnamon flavoring they were spinning was so strong, it made our faces burn. We also got a chance to watch them panning dutch mints. If something is already candy-coated, the process can also be used to add shine and gloss. They came in dull and blah, and left shiny, white and beautiful.
Next step was the storeroom. Since only one type of bean is made at a time, and boxes contain up to 50 flavors, you can imagine the inventory difficulties of this business. In addition, many beans contain fresh ingredients, and so must be made when those ingredients are brought in, as the factory has no refrigerated storage. A huge room filled with trays of jelly beans, candy corn and other goodies - if they hadn't been wrapped up, it might have been a dangerous situation.
Lastly, the packaging center. Assortments of beans, like the autumn mix they were creating that day, are mixed by hand. Trays of the appropriate flavors are dumped into a huge trough, mixed up with gloved hands, and fed into a packing machine. The many flavored trays are mixed by computer. In the same room, the logo is imprinted on the beans, using a process we weren't allowed to see. The beans are packed into boxes, printed with labels and off they go to your mouth!