Are you craving something sweet and fruity, perhaps a mixed berry smoothie, strawberry daiquiri or watermelon? Or maybe a quick pick me up is in order, like cappuccino? Or you might remember the summery goodness of A&W Root Beer, or sitting in the movie theater with some buttered popcorn?
Jelly Belly has taken jelly beans to a whole new taste level with flavors -- such as those mentioned -- that defy the laws of candy making. The company started in 1976 with just eight flavors. Today, there are 50.
So how do they wrap those amazing flavors into those tiny four-calorie, bean-shaped confections?
You can learn all the secrets (well, maybe not quite all) on a Jelly Belly candy company warehouse tour in Pleasant Prairie, just southwest of Kenosha, off Interstate 94.
The free tour consists of a 30-minute ride on the Jelly Belly Express through the warehouse. The train stops several times at stations where a tour guide and supplementary video explains the company history, the candy making process and a whole lot of other Jelly Belly info. The goodies aren't actually made at the warehouse. That honor goes to Farifield, Calif.
On the tour
We entered the low-slung building on Jelly Belly Lane, put on a Jelly Belly hat, followed a jelly bean path on the wall and floor and hopped on the train just as the tour was getting started.
With a toot of its whistle, the train chugged off, stopping at all sorts of interesting displays, such as a wedding dress, flapper gown and other outfits made of jelly beans. On the ends of high racks were huge mosaics of famous people made with Jelly Belly beans. Smiling Mr. Jelly Belly statues appeared en route and huge, colorful Jelly Belly beans floated overhead.
We stopped at one station that featured a video of Ronald Reagan. The 40th president loved jelly beans, so it is not surprising that Jelly Belly beans became a favorite. The candies were served in the Oval Office and on Air Force One. The plane contained a specially designed holder so nobody would spill the beans during a turbulent flight.
Jelly Belly created its blueberry bean for Reagan's presidential inauguration in 1981, although his personal favorite was licorice. Attendees consumed more than three tons of Jelly Belly beans during the festivities.
Jelly Belly has honored the late president with a portrait of him, made from 10,000 jelly beans, which hangs in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif.
Candy making magic
There are numerous steps to the candy-making process, which can last seven to 14 days. Videos showed the steps at each station. We watched the candy maker add the sweet ingredients to big machines that looked like front-loading washers and saw how the candy mixture tumbled around inside.
The soft candies often contain natural ingredients, such as strawberry, pear, banana and coconut purees. The flavors are mixed into the center and the shell, which gets the distinctive Jelly Belly stamp.
We also learned about the most popular Jelly Belly flavor (cherry), the latest flavor (pancakes and maple syrup) and some of the ideas that have been submitted by Jelly Belly fans (macaroni and cheese, nachos, pickles).
After our tour, the train stopped at the retail store, and all riders received a small gift bag of assorted Jelly Belly beans. The shop contains everything Jelly Belly, including lots of other candy -- candy corn, gummies, taffy and chocolate. A little snack bar serves several fast food items.
Other store products include items from the Disney movie “Frozen", organic jelly beans, sugar-free flavors and Soda Pop Shoppe Flavors. You can also buy large bags of slightly irregular beans called Belly Flops, which sell for less than the good ones. The company makes more than 100 candy products.
There is even something called Bean Boozled. The box contains flavors that look exactly alike. For instance, coconut might actually be spoiled milk, or licorice might be skunk.
If you’re looking to spend the whole day in the area, you might want to check out the Kenosha Public Museum, which includes a permanent exhibit featuring mammoths excavated in Kenosha County.
Kenosha also boasts a noteworthy Civil War Museum that includes personal stories of Midwestern soldiers who fought in the war. Just a short ride away via the city’s electric streetcar is Dinosaur Discovery Museum, featuring life-size dinosaur replicas.
If you go
Jelly Belly Visitor Center, 10100 Jelly Belly Lane, Pleasant Prairie; Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily; JellyBelly.com; 866-868-7522