Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsMaker

Santorum seeks link to Reagan with address at Jelly Belly factory

March 29, 2012|By Seema Mehta
  • Former President Ronald Reagan presents then-President-elect Clinton with a jar of red, white and blue jelly beans in November 1992.
Former President Ronald Reagan presents then-President-elect Clinton… (Paul Richards / AFP )

When Rick Santorum's campaign announced that the GOP presidential candidate would deliver a major foreign policy address today, the venue instantly raised eyebrows – the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield, Calif.

The candy maker has decades-long ties to California politics – among the candidates to stump there in recent years were gubernatorial hopefuls Richard Riordan and Bill Simon as well as vice presidential nominee Jack Kemp. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger served Jelly Belly beans at his first inaugural festivities; his then-young children reportedly pelted one another with them.

But the most famous political connection is the late President Ronald Reagan, whose fondness for the small candies is legendary and placed the jelly bean maker on the map.

While running for governor, Reagan relied on the candies as he tried to stop smoking a pipe. His favorite flavor was licorice. When Reagan took office in 1967, the candy-maker, then known as the Herman Goelitz Candy Co., regularly sent shipments to the statehouse. Reagan kept a jar on his desk.

"They have become such a tradition of this administration that it has gotten to the point where we can hardly start a meeting or make a decision without passing around a jar of jelly beans," Reagan wrote in a letter to the candy maker.

That tradition continued when Reagan became president. The candy-maker, now making jelly beans with real fruit juice, created a blueberry-flavored bean especially for Reagan so he could serve a patriotic red, white and blue assortment at his inaugural festivities in 1981.

The jelly beans were a constant through Reagan's two terms. He had the candies stowed on the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1983 as a surprise for the astronauts, and gave them out as souvenirs to world leaders. And the jelly beans were constantly in presidential reach. Reagan kept a crystal jar of beans on his desk in the Oval Office, as well as aboard Air Force One and Marine One.

"You can tell  a lot about a fella's character by whether he picks out all of one color or just grabs a handful," he said.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|