David Klein is the inventor of Jelly Belly jelly beans, and he’s got quite a story. Last week, I talked with David about his new documentary, Candyman: The David Klein Story, produced by his son and daughter-in-law. I’d been hoping to see this film, which chronicles David’s Jelly Belly journey, so I felt like I won a first prize when he offered to send me a copy.
So far, I’ve watched this feature-length film twice. It’s quirky and a little addicting. Ellia Kassoff, the owner of Astro Pops, LLC, says he’s watched it four times.
I am drawn to this film because David is a walking candy Wikipedia. If I were writing a historical piece on the industry, he’d be the first guy I’d call. Ask David a question about a candy brand and he’ll tell you when it was invented, the company that manufactured it, when the brand changed hands, and the people behind it all.
I am also drawn to this film because of David’s character. He is wacky (he writes all of his notes on paper plates) and would probably drive you nuts if he were your dad, but he’s got a heart of gold and an entrepreneurial spirit that trumps The Donald’s.
I’m no film critic, so I won’t go into details about the film (see the Candy Professor’s review), but I will share a few good takeaways I got from my call with the Candyman:
- From the beginning, David sold jelly beans as individual flavors. “If I only sold an assorted box, I’d only have one spot in the store. By forcing retailers to buy single flavors, I got much more shelf space.”
- David got the idea for intensely and realistically flavored jelly beans while watching “Happy Days.” He got the idea for the brand name, “Jelly Belly” while watching “Sanford and Son.”
- David’s all-time favorite candy is not jelly beans. It’s actually Junior Mints (and Queen Anne’s Caramellos, but they are extinct).
- David wishes the manufacturer of Junior Mints (Tootsie Roll Industries), would come out with a Junior Mint peppermint patty.
- David is working on a new line of jelly beans that he says will “revolutionize the jelly bean business.” If all goes to plan, the new beans will roll out before Easter 2011.
- The outlandish rhinestone cowboy outfit that David wore on “The Mike Douglas Show” set him back $4,760.