Jelly Belly Candy Company Steps up to OU Kosher Certification: Sunkist Fruit Gems and Fruit Slices

In the confectionery world, a few names stand out in the minds of consumers. Jelly Belly jelly beans are one of those confections that enjoy worldwide brand name recognition and loyal consumer following. The Jelly Belly Candy Company, which sets the standard in quality candy making with its gourmet jelly beans, recently acquired Ben Myerson Candy Company of Los Angeles, and with it, the opportunity to make Sunkist®Fruit Gems, Sunkist®Fruit Slices and other Sunkist branded confectionery delights, all of which carried the Orthodox Union’s kosher certification prior to the acquisition.

“When we made the acquisition we felt the OU certification was important to maintain for these really terrific Sunkist licensed candies. It was a good match for our company — many people are surprised to learn we make more than one hundred confections in additional to Jelly Belly jelly beans, our flagship brand,” said Robert Simpson, President, Jelly Belly Candy Company.

“Our company had used another kosher certification for two decades for Jelly Belly jelly beans, but in the consolidation of manufacturing for the Sunkist licensed confections, it seemed to be the ideal opportunity to seek OU certification for Jelly Belly beans as well,” Mr. Simpson said.

The company’s gourmet Jelly Belly jelly beans are expected to receive the OU certification later this summer, as will the broad range of quality confections that includes chocolates, licorice, mellocremes, sour candies and confections for the seasons.

“We produce such a large variety of confections and use so many different ingredients that seeing the process through to certification is a significant undertaking. Working together with the Orthodox Union to certify the two manufacturing facilities has been a cooperative effort,” said Michael Bianco, vice president of manufacturing.

“The commitment by Jelly Belly Candy Company to the OU’s highest standards has been evident throughout the certification process, involving cooperation and involvement of all key company officials,” said Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Safran, OU Kosher’s Vice President of Communications & Marketing and Senior Rabbinic Coordinator.

The company is also rapidly expanding distribution, especially in the international arena. The market for kosher certified products outside the U.S. is growing 15 percent a year. Many consumers choose kosher for religious requirements, while others choose kosher for the higher qualitative or for a variety of dietary reasons such as allergies, dairy free and vegetarian concerns.

“There is robust international appeal for kosher foods. The acceptance of the OU mark is strong, and we expect to see new opportunities to build our international distribution with the presence of this mark,” saidnSharon Duncan, vice president, sales, International Division at Jelly Belly.


The sweet beginnings of Jelly Belly Candy Company are traced back to a German family named Goelitz. In 1869, just two years after arriving in America, Gustav Goelitz bought an ice cream and candy store in Belleville, Ill. And set the family on its candy making course for generations to follow. His brother, Albert, joined him in the business and was sent out in a horse drawn wagon to sell their sweets to nearby communities.

Then the second generation of the family jumped on the bandwagon of confectionery manufacturing by creating a new type of candy called “buttercreams.“ While most of America knew hard-boiled candies, the new style sweet was soft, rich and smooth. The best known candy of this type is Candy Corn, a sweet the family began making around 1900. These candies carried two more generations of the family through the Great Depression and two world wars.

Today, the descendants of Gustav Goelitz, the fourth, fifth and now the sixth generations of the candy family, are carrying on the tradition of making premium candy.


The first jelly bean appeared in America in the mid-1800s when the penny candy craze prompted candy makers to begin experimenting with sugar candies. The jelly candy, likely inspired by Turkish delight, was shaped into a bean and given a soft shell using a French process called “panning.” The first jelly bean was a novelty from an American candy maker whose name has since been lost in time.

Fast forward a century and the idea for a premium jelly bean was born when a Los Angeles candy distributor suggested a jelly bean made with natural flavorings to the candy makers at Jelly Belly (formerly Herman Goelitz Candy Co.). The company known for making the very best candies seemed the best place to bring the idea to life.

Creating “true-to-life” flavors was a natural evolution. The candy makers cooked up a recipe for a new style of jelly bean — intensely flavored throughout, with natural ingredients for flavoring whenever possible. In 1976 the first eight Jelly Belly flavors came to market: Very Cherry, Lemon, Cream Soda, Tangerine, Green Apple, Root Beer, Grape and Licorice. They remain some of the most popular flavors in the Jelly Belly bean collection to this day.

The flavors of the little beans with the great big taste began to acquire fans. Soon Jelly Belly beans became the favorite candy of President Ronald Reagan, who made them a staple in the Oval Office and on Air Force One. (President Reagan’s passion for jelly beans inspired Blueberry flavor, which was cooked up so he could serve red, white, and blue beans at his inaugural parties.) Diplomats and world leaders clamored to have Jelly Belly beans. They were also the first jelly beans in outer space. Free floating, weightless, Jelly Belly beans were sent on the space shuttle Challenger in 1983 as a presidential surprise for the astronauts.

Today, Jelly Belly is the world’s favorite gourmet jelly bean, the bean of choice for all those with the most discerning tastes, and made in fifty amazing and tasty flavors. The company released Pomegranate Jelly Belly beans earlier this year.

“Seeing how much time and manpower it takes to produce a single jelly bean has been amazing. The company’s emphasis on quality standards for thousands of ingredients that are needed to produce such a range of flavors is impressive,” said Rabbi Zalman Thaler, the local Orthodox Union representative.

To the surprise and delight of Jelly Belly bean fans, the ancestors of Gustav Goelitz continue to cook up some of the best loved candies in the world under the Confections by Jelly Belly. Today the company known for taste defining Jelly Belly beans, still makes Candy Corn and produces more than one hundred other mouthwatering candies, including such delights as chocolates, licorice, sour candies and confections for the seasons.

OU Kosher Staff