Pleasant Prairie, a quaintly named town full of warehouses and other nondescript officey type places, hosts the Jelly Belly Factory. The factory is easily accessible off I-94. I-94 will take you from Chicago through Milwaukee and on the Wisconsin side, you’ll see such Badger State oddities as a farm spray painted “4: Go Jets” (think Favre) and the Mars Cheese Castle.
Once inside the Factory, you’ll have to wait inside the lobby for the next tour to begin. Somebodyisfromhere.com waited a harmless five minutes before his took flight. There were about eight people in his group. Two were South Africans (who were polite and further support his hypothesis that South Africans are the happiest people on Earth).
The tour is a “train” that drives around the warehouse. The train/group that got in before Somebodyisfromhere.com was full of children; obviously the demographic that Big Jelly Bean was going for. Soemebodyisfromhere.com’s train was comprised of adults only.
As per health regulations, they make you wear a paper hat which makes you feel weird. Rest assured, however, you chose to go to a jelly bean factory. You already are weird.
The train goes around the perimeter of the warehouse and stops every 75 (?) yards or so to make you watch a giant TV (monitor?). During these stops, they show you how jelly beans (and taffeys) are made. You also learn, among other things, that there are over 49 Jelly Belly flavors.
They show you trucks full of sugar pulling into the plant and then show you how many layers of sugar go into each bean. They tell you each bean only has four calories. At first, you think, sure that’s low, but if you eat enough of them... Still, a serving is about 30 beans which seems reasonable and after multiplying that by four, it really isn’t so bad.
Around the warehouse they have artwork made of jelly beans. It’s kinda cool in a I wouldn’t want to own it kind of way. They revere Ronald Reagan at Jelly Belly. He, it seems, legitimized jelly beans by bringing them with him to the White House (Think Telly Savalis with a lollipop, only you know, the leader of the free world).
The tour concludes where it started, that is to say, conveniently near the Jelly Belly store. They give you a fairly generous supply of free samples, but again, you went to a jelly bean factory, and they know you aren’t going to leave without going to the register with something.