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11 Flavorful Facts About Jelly Belly

Jelly beans aren’t necessarily new candies—they're made from a combination of pre-Biblical and 17th century candy techniques. But the Jelly Belly rebranded the sugary treat to something much sweeter, and much higher-end, than your typical flavored gummy.

1. JELLY BELLY'S FOUNDER IS FAMOUS FOR ANOTHER POPULAR CANDY.

Jelly Belly jelly beans are a 20th century sweet, but they are tied to a much older candy company: the Goelitz Candy Company. Confectioner Gustav Goelitz began creating and selling candies in 1869, just a couple of years after moving to the U.S. from Germany. By 1894, Goelitz had passed the company on to his sons, and they soon released Chicken Feed buttercream candies—the popular treat we now call candy corn. But, it wasn’t until the 1960s that the company would create its iconic jelly beans, and those candies wouldn’t feature the Jelly Belly name until 1980.

2. GOELITZ'S MINI BEANS WERE SPECIAL BECAUSE OF THEIR FLAVORED CENTERS.

Before Jelly Belly was officially on the scene, the Herman Goelitz Candy Company (which had undergone a name change) released its Mini Jelly Beans in bags of generic flavors. In 1965, the small beans were the first of their kind to have flavored centers, a distinguishing point for Goelitz beans at a time when other jelly beans had flavored shells but bland insides. By 1975, the Goelitz Mini Jelly Beans were available in eight specific flavors, including root beer, cream soda, green apple and grape.

3. THE GOURMET CANDY CONCEPT WAS CREATED BY SOMEONE ELSE.

In 1976, David Klein, who was a nut distributor at the time, thought that gourmet jelly beans featuring strong, unique flavors that weren’t commonly available would be worth the extra money to consumers. So Klein created new, exotic flavors and hired the Herman Goelitz Candy Company to create the recipes and a first batch. The overwhelming response to Jelly Belly beans launched Klein’s career—he became the the candy's spokesman and mascot. It won him a lot of publicity—enough that the Goelitz company offered to buy him out. In 1980, Klein sold the Jelly Belly trademark to the candy factory for a whopping $4.8 million, and Klein says he instantly regretted selling off his most-famous creation. The Herman Goelitz Candy Company didn't file to change its name to the Jelly Belly Candy Company until 2001.

4. RONALD REAGAN WAS THE COMPANY'S BEST (UNOFFICIAL) SPOKESPERSON.

President Ronald Reagan gifted President-elect Bill Clinton a jar of his favorite Jelly Bellys in 1992. Getty

Ronald Reagan was an early advocate of the brand, having been a fan of Goelitz's Mini Jelly Beans since the late '60s, back when he was Governor of California. (He'd used the candy as a smoking cessation tool—and it worked!) For Reagan’s presidential inauguration in 1981, 3.5 tons of Jelly Belly beans were shipped to Washington D.C., including a newly created blueberry flavor to round out the patriotic color scheme with very cherry and coconut. During his presidency, Reagan’s office and the other federal buildings he passed his bags out to consumed an estimated 300,000 jelly beans per month. At one point, specialty jelly bean holders were installed in Air Force One to keep any of the president's precious snacks from spilling during turbulence.

5. THERE ARE NUMEROUS REAGAN PORTRAITS MADE OUT OF JELLY BELLYS.

In an incredibly fitting tribute, the Reagan Library in southern California features one large portrait of the former president in front of an American flag, made out of approximately 10,000 Jelly Bellys. The Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield, California also has a large double portrait featuring both Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan. And there are others, including one featuring his famous cowboy hat, another of Reagan in front of a globe, and a separate flag portrait designed from a different angle.

6. JELLY BELLY HAS A STRICT FLAVOR DEVELOPMENT PROCESS.

So, what makes a jelly bean gourmet? According to Jelly Belly, it’s the flavoring. While Jelly Belly beans come in 50 original flavors along with specialty beans, new additions are a constant work in progress. The number one rule to new flavors is that they have to be “instantly recognizable”—because what’s worse than not knowing a candy flavor? To make new jelly beans taste like their real-life inspiration, food scientists spend hours researching and taste testing ingredients to narrow in on a specific flavor. Foods that don’t pass the instant test, like Grandma’s Pumpkin Pie, are sent back to the lab for additional tweaking. And sometimes, flops are used as novelty flavors (like barf).

7. JELLY BELLY TRADEMARKED BEAN-SHAPED PIZZA.

After taking a tour at Jelly Belly’s California or Wisconsin factories, you can balance out a sugar rush at the Jelly Belly Café. Carbs might replace sugar, but the kidney bean shape remains in the form of pizza and hamburgers. If you’re feeling inspired to replicate jelly bean-shaped buns or crusts, beware: Jelly Belly owns the design trademark for pizza, burger buns. and meat patties. In late 2015, the confectioner filed paperwork to trademark the kidney bean shape for jelly beans, too.

8. EATING GROSS FLAVORS HAS BECOME EXTREMELY MARKETABLE FOR THEM.

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Unusual flavors, like canned dog food and stinky socks, are surprisingly authentic Jelly Belly flavors. In 2007, the candy manufacturer released the first packages of their BeanBoozled challenge, where classic flavors (like coconut and buttered popcorn) sit alongside their not-so-great look-a-likes (like baby wipes and rotten egg) in the same container. Unsuspecting snackers might be fooled, but mindful eaters are essentially playing a game of taste bud roulette. Is that green speckled bean Juicy Pear, or Booger? For the brave, Jelly Belly is releasing its fourth edition of BeanBoozled this spring.

9. JELLY BELLYS HAVE BEEN TO SPACE.

Jelly Belly beans became the first jelly beans in outer space in 1983 when a package was secretly stowed aboard the Challenger on President Reagan’s orders, accompanying first female astronaut Sally Ride into space. Playing with (and eating) jelly beans in space hasn’t stopped since—astronauts on the International Space Station took videos of floating beans in 2007.

10. THE COMPANY'S BEER-FLAVORED BEANS DIDN'T GO OVER AS WELL AS SOME.

In 2014, Jelly Belly launched a Draft Beer bean that brewed up tension among parents and candy enthusiasts. The alcohol-free flavor was under development for nearly three years but caused a stir soon after its release because of Jelly Belly’s kid-friendly reputation, despite the company’s assurance that alcohol-inspired flavors were only marketed to adults. Not everyone thought the new flavor was a bad idea—according to Jelly Belly, beer-flavored jelly beans had been a common request for years. And, the beer-flavored beans aren’t the company’s only cocktail flavor; margarita, strawberry daiquiri, and pina colada jelly beans are also available for buzz-free snacking.

11. JELLY BELLY RELEASED A CANDY LINE FOR ATHLETES.

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It might seem unusual to market sugar and sweets to athletes, but Jelly Belly has its own line of candy for the physically active. Sports Beans are dubbed “Energizing Jelly Beans,” meant for athletes to power up on the go. While some varieties are packed with vitamins and electrolytes, another line called Extreme Sport Beans includes caffeine for a small energy boost. Jelly Belly even sponsors a pro cycling team to represent its sugary sports bites. Perhaps that kind of innovation is what keeps Jelly Belly from becoming stale.

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Pop Culture
How Jimmy Buffett Turned 'Margaritaville' Into a Way of Life
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Few songs have proven as lucrative as “Margaritaville,” a modest 1977 hit by singer and songwriter Jimmy Buffett that became an anthem for an entire life philosophy. The track was the springboard for Buffett’s business empire—restaurants, apparel, kitchen appliances, and more—marketing the taking-it-easy message of its tropical print lyrics.

After just a few years of expanding that notion into other ventures, the “Parrot Heads” of Buffett’s fandom began to account for $40 million in annual revenue—and that was before the vacation resorts began popping up.

Jimmy Buffett performs for a crowd
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“Margaritaville,” which turned 40 this year, was never intended to inspire this kind of devotion. It was written after Buffett, as an aspiring musician toiling in Nashville, found himself in Key West, Florida, following a cancelled booking in Miami and marveling at the sea of tourists clogging the beaches.

Like the other songs on his album, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, it didn’t receive a lot of radio play. Instead, Buffett began to develop his following by opening up for The Eagles. Even at 30, Buffett was something less than hip—a flip-flopped performer with a genial stage presence that seemed to invite an easygoing vibe among crowds. “Margaritaville,” an anthem to that kind of breezy attitude, peaked at number eight on the Billboard charts in 1977. While that’s impressive for any single, its legacy would quickly evolve beyond the music industry's method for gauging success.

What Buffett realized as he continued to perform and tour throughout the early 1980s is that “Margaritaville” had the ability to sedate audiences. Like a hypnotist, the singer could immediately conjure a specific time and place that listeners wanted to revisit. The lyrics painted a scene of serenity that became a kind of existential vacation for Buffett's fans:

Nibblin' on sponge cake,
Watchin' the sun bake;
All of those tourists covered with oil.
Strummin' my six string on my front porch swing.
Smell those shrimp —
They're beginnin' to boil.

By 1985, Buffett was ready to capitalize on that goodwill. In Key West, he opened a Margaritaville store, which sold hats, shirts, and other ephemera to residents and tourists looking to broadcast their allegiance to his sand-in-toes fantasy. (A portion of the proceeds went to Save the Manatees, a nonprofit organization devoted to animal conservation.) The store also sold the Coconut Telegraph, a kind of propaganda newsletter about all things Buffett and his chill perspective.

When Buffett realized patrons were coming in expecting a bar or food—the song was named after a mixed drink, after all—he opened a cafe adjacent to the store in late 1987. The configuration was ideal, and through the 1990s, Buffett and business partner John Cohlan began erecting Margaritaville locations in Florida, New Orleans, and eventually Las Vegas and New York. All told, more than 21 million people visit a Buffett-inspired hospitality destination every year.

A parrot at Margaritaville welcomes guests
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Margaritaville-branded tequila followed. So, too, did a line of retail foods like hummus, a book of short stories, massive resorts, a Sirius radio channel, and drink blenders. Buffett even wrote a 242-page script for a Margaritaville movie that he had hoped to film in the 1980s. It’s one of the very few Margaritaville projects that has yet to have come to fruition, but it might be hard for Buffett to complain much. In 2015, his entire empire took in $1.5 billion in sales.

As of late, Buffett has signed off on an Orlando resort due to open in 2018, offering “casual luxury” near the boundaries of Walt Disney World. (One in Hollywood, Florida, is already a hit, boasting a 93 percent occupancy rate.) Even for guests that aren’t particularly familiar with his music, “Jimmy Buffett” has become synonymous with comfort and relaxation just as surely as Walt Disney has with family entertainment. The association bodes well for a business that will eventually have to move beyond Buffett’s concert-going loyalists.

Not that he's looking to leave them behind. The 70-year-old Buffett is planning on a series of Margaritaville-themed retirement communities, with the first due to open in Daytona Beach in 2018. More than 10,000 Parrot Heads have already registered, eager to watch the sun set while idling in a frame of mind that Buffett has slowly but surely turned into a reality.

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Design
The Secret to the World's Most Comfortable Bed Might Be Yak Hair
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Tengi

Savoir Beds laughs at your unspooling mail-order mattresses and their promises of ultimate comfort. The UK-based company has teamed with London's Savoy Hotel to offer what they’ve declared is one of the most luxurious nights of sleep you’ll ever experience. 

What do they have that everyone else lacks? About eight pounds of Mongolian yak hair.

The elegantly-named Savoir No. 1 Khangai Limited Edition is part of the hotel’s elite Royal Suite accommodations. For $1845 a night, guests can sink into the mattress with a topper stuffed full of yak hair from Khangai, Mongolia. Hand-combed and with heat-dispensing properties, it takes 40 yaks to make one topper. In a press release, collaborator and yarn specialist Tengri claims it “transcends all levels of comfort currently available.”

Visitors opting for such deluxe amenities also have access to a hair stylist, butler, chef, and a Rolls-Royce with a driver.

Savoir Beds has entered into a fair-share partnership with the farmers, who receive an equitable wage in exchange for the fibers, which are said to be softer than cashmere. If you’d prefer to luxuriate like that every night, the purchase price for the bed is $93,000. Purchased separately, the topper is $17,400. Act soon, as only 50 of the beds will be made available each year. 

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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