Posts Tagged ‘Jelly Belly’

The Jelly Belly Candy Company‘s Chairman of the Board Herman Goelitz Rowland, Sr., and his daughter/Executive Vice Chairman Lisa Rowland Brasher open up to Candy.com about working in a multigeneration family business that goes back to 1869, their business challenges, and favorite beans.

Herman Goelitz Rowland and Lisa Rowland Jelly Belly

Lisa Rowland Brasher and Herman Goelitz Rowland, Sr.

Candy.com: Herm, when your children and grandchildren were young, did you ever think they’d be working at the Jelly Belly Candy Company?

HGR: It wasn’t mandatory for any of my family to join the business, but it’s been great there is interest. We have 10 of us now working in the business. I just want them to be happy in what they do.

Candy.com: Lisa, as executive vice chairman, you’re apprenticing to prepare for leading the company into the next generation of candy making. How do you feel about that next big step?

LRB: It is quite an honor for me to be in this position. Succession planning is very important to every company and we are a family business that currently employs family members from the 4th, 5th, and 6th generation of our candy-making family. Is that cool or what?! We all work in many different areas of the business and that gives us a good finger on the pulse of the company. I am also surrounded by an awesome team of Jelly Belly employees who are very capable and respected in their areas of expertise, which makes my job that much easier.

Herman Goelitz Rowland, Lisa Rowland Brasher, Trevor Brasher Jelly Belly

Three generations of Jelly Belly candy makers: Herm, his daughter Lisa, and Lisa's son Trevor.

Candy.com: What’s it like to not only work with your closest family members, but also ultimately oversee their work?

LRB: Fortunately, we all get along really well. I am sure that there will be times of difficulty, just as there are in any work relationships, but we all seem to communicate well with each other. The expectation for every generation of family members has been that we exceed expectations as an employee. I know my kids feel that I am harder on them than I am on others. That is probably true, but, as I learned as a youngster, many eyes are on us and what we do. We need to set a good example. I also think that being up front and honest with thoughts and feelings is invaluable. A small note hanging on my wall reminds me that the same letters are in the word “Silent” and the word “Listen.” Most of us in our family don’t have a problem speaking our mind, so I want to always keep that in the forefront of my mind. Be quiet, listen, and then talk!

Candy.com: Lisa, did you know early on that you wanted to be a part of the family candy business?

LRB: As youngsters, we did not visit the candy factory often. My dad worked long days that weren’t conducive to having two little girls running around the factory.  But later on, my sister and I occasionally went to the factory with my dad on a weekend or a holiday—and I was totally sold! The smells (yum) of the powdery mist of sugar floating in the air, the sweet smell of milk chocolate, the sight of trays stacked high with candy corn, mellocreme choppers, or chocolate pokies lured me in.

Candy.com: Herm, if you weren’t running the Jelly Belly Candy Company, what would you want to do?

HGR: Design new equipment, probably for the candy industry. Equipment is my first love. Or grow something on a farm and drive a tractor.

Candy.com: What’s your biggest business challenge at the moment?

LRB: I think that our biggest challenge at the moment is similar to the challenges that many companies face nationwide: How can we be the best that we can be with our employees, consumers, vendors, and retailers; continue to produce excellent quality confections and provide superior customer service while keeping our costs contained so that we can be competitive in the market in an economy that all costs are skyrocketing!

Jelly Belly Beans
Candy.com: What’s your most favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor … and least favorite?

HGR: Peach has always been at the top of my list. Can’t think of any I don’t like.

LRB: Currently my favorite flavors are #1 – Red Apple, #2 – Plum, and #3 – Juicy Pear. (Juicy Pear used to be my #1 flavor until Red Apple and Plum were released.) My fourth favorite flavor is Chili Mango. It’s funny because I really don’t like spicy tastes and I can live without mango, too, but I LOVE this flavor. Just the right amount of sweet and spicy. My least favorite bean flavor is cantaloupe. I am also not a fan of Licorice. Funny because it is our #3 flavor in the lineup!

Candy.com: Have you or any of your family members ever submitted a Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor that either got used or shot down?

LRB: Yes, in 1995 we came out with Red Licorice, which I love and had always wanted us to produce. The problem here was that there are two very distinct tastes for Red Licorice.  Unfortunately for me, our team made the taste that is not my favorite brand of red licorice and the rest of the country agreed. Due to less-than-stellar sales, it was discontinued shortly thereafter.

Jelly Belly Peas & Carrots MellocremesCandy.com: I heard that your new Peas & Carrots Mellocremes were a hit at this year’s Winter Fancy Food Show. Why do you think show-goers went nuts over the sweet side dish?

LRB: The retro look is a hot trend right now and our fun can of Peas and Carrots fits the bill perfectly.  They are realistic looking and cute too! Mellocreme flavors of Green Apple and Orange Sherbet put a fun twist on traditional yummy mellocreme candies. Eating your veggies never tasted so good!

Candy.com: Any other new products or Jelly Belly Jelly Bean flavors you’ll be launching at the Sweets & Snacks EXPO this May?
LRB: Jelly Belly is known worldwide for its product innovation and the exciting new confections coming out at the next Sweets & Snacks EXPO this May will not disappoint!  But, we have to keep some surprises for the show.

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Taste

Aroma

Appearance

Price


The Marich Confectionery Company is the kind of candy company you want to buy from, work for, or—in my case—write about.

It’s a family-owned manufacturing business that was started in 1983 by the late Dutch candy maker Marinus van Dam. He was 57 at the time of launch. His two sons, Brad and Troy, now run the California-based company, but that was not by design (more in a minute).

Marinus’ candy career started in his early teens in Rotterdam, Netherlands, shortly after his father died in a German work camp during WWII. To support his family, he got a job at the DeHeer chocolate factory (now owned by The Baronie Group) scraping chocolate and other confections off the floor.

Over time, Marinus proved himself and was chosen to attend a candy technology school. Brad says his dad was a sponge and learned how to make every type of candy under the sun, including Marich Confectionery Company’s hallmark panned candies (candy with a coating or candy shell).

“My dad knew candy from a creative standpoint and by its molecular structure,” says Brad. “People in the industry would frequently call on him to troubleshoot process, technique, and formula issues.”

Marinus took his honed skills to the United States and went to work for a series of candy manufacturers, including Anthony-Thomas Chocolates, Herman Goelitz Candy Co. (now the Jelly Belly Candy Company), and Harmony Foods before opening his own operation in the early 1980s.

Family Matters
To keep his young confectionery company afloat, Marinus asked his son Brad, who, at the time, was 20, living on his own, and pursuing an engineering degree, if he would please come home and help with the business.

“My dad said, ‘I can’t afford to pay you, but you can live at home,’” says Brad who chuckles when he tells what it was like to move back to the nest. “My dad is old-school Dutch, so working for him was like going to the college of hard knocks.”

Brad and his younger brother Troy both rose to the occasion and started out making boxes, mopping floors, cleaning the bathroom, and other necessary evils. “For the first two years, we didn’t get paid,” says Brad.

When one of the candy makers left Marich for health reasons, Brad stepped up again. “I made more scrap than candy and got an earful.”

Flash-Forward to 2011
Brad and Troy are both master candy makers and are doing exactly what their dad was skillfully able to do with chocolate and sugar: read and respond to it.

“Chocolate and sugar have a mind of their own,” says Brad with a big laugh. He also mentions how the panning process brings its own unique set of challenges to the art of candy making.

“For what seems to be a simple process, you’d be amazed at the number of things that can go wrong. I equate it to bowling. You’ll get good at it, but you’re never going to bowl a 300 game every time,” he explains. “You can do everything the same way you did it the last time, and it won’t work. They key is staying ahead of the process so you have time to read and react to the product.”

Heart and Soul
Just like their father, Brad and Troy use Guittard Chocolate for their chocolate products and are very proud of that 27-year relationship.

As I’m talking to Brad about this longstanding partnership, he tells me a great story about Guittard’s now-retired sales director, Hank Spini.

“No matter where in the world Hank was on October 24, he would find my dad to have lunch with him. It was my dad’s birthday,” he explains. “This went on for decades. They were good friends.”

Hank eventually became Brad’s mentor and taught him how to buy cocoa and work with customers. Hank’s son Mark Spini followed in his own father’s footsteps and is a cornerstone at Guittard today.

How cool is that?

The Goods
The Marich Confectionery Company’s chocolate and non-chocolate products (almost too pretty to eat) are available at Candy.com and Marich.com as well as specialty retailers. Here is a tiny teaser to get you to check out the entire collection, which includes all-natural, organic, and sugar-free options. (Click on each image below for detailed product information.)

Best Seller! Pastel Chocolate Cherries

Valentine Jordan Almonds

Holland Mints

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Candy products come and go. Some you don’t miss, others you miss terribly.

I miss the braided caramel and chocolate Marathon bars and Bub’s Daddy Bubble Gum (especially the apple flavor).

I don’t miss the Peter Paul Caravelle bar.

I wish Tootsie Roll Industries would offer a box of just red Dots. I also wish a manufacturer would come out with a really good drug store version of an English toffee bar with a thick layer of milk chocolate. Heath doesn’t do it for me. (My kids wish for edible Japanese erasers, but I have a feeling those are already invented.)

Looking back on 2010, several brands/line extensions were “invented,” including Jelly Belly Honey Beans, M&M’s Pretzel, American Licorice Co.’s Natural Vines, and Gimbal’s Honey Lovers.

Also in 2010, a handful of vintage brands made surprise comebacks like Bonomo Turkish Taffy, McCraw’s Flat Taffy, and Astro Pops.

Heading into 2011, are there any candies you’d like to see invented, reformulated (e.g., I wish Nestle Crunch Bars could be made with quality chocolate), or coaxed out of retirement?

Anything’s possible, so post your ideas below or on Facebook. You never know who’s reading.

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Described as “the true blue Willy Wonka,” “eccentric,” an “oddball,” and a “savant,” David Klein, I recently found out, is all of these things, and more.

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.

Candyman: The David Klein Story is now playing on The Documentary Channel, which is primarily available through satellite television services DISH Network (Channel 197) and DIRECTV (Channel 267).

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