The Sour Story of Jelly Belly's Willy Wonka

Candymaker now gives $5 tours of his small factory
By Tim Karan,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 22, 2011 4:54 PM CDT
The Not-So-Sweet Story of Jelly Belly's Willy Wonka
The creator of Jelly Belly regrets selling the trademark more than 30 years ago.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – There's no candy-coating the story of Jelly Belly creator David Klein. After coming up with the idea for the high-end jelly bean company, he took a modest buy-out in 1980 and has regretted it ever since, reports the Los Angeles Times in a profile. Klein, an eccentric 64-year-old, now gives $5 tours of his small California factory in an effort to rejuvenate his career and receive the acclaim he thinks he missed out on. He came up with the idea for the gourmet jelly beans in 1976 and teamed up with Bay Area candy manufacturer Herman Goelitz Candy Co., which developed the recipes.

Klein served as the face of the brand for several years, but by the time it broke big in the '80s, he and his partner had sold the trademark to Goelitz in exchange for $10,000 per month for 20 years. Goelitz changed its name to Jelly Belly Candy Co. and now brings in $193 million annually. It also made no mention of Klein in its 30-year anniversary book. Klein plans to release a new gourmet jelly bean brand featuring exotic flavors like Thai curry. Still, he hasn't been the same since giving up the Jelly Belly name. "I remember so much happiness in the house, when my dad was on TV," says his son. "When he lost Jelly Belly, it was like parting with a child." (Read more Jelly Belly stories.)

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