This past Chol Hamoed Sukkos, my father decided that he would take us on an exciting adventure to an unnamed destination. Much of the excitement was due to the fact that I was trusting my sister Dustfinger with my life. Dustfinger, happily, knows how to drive (with a permit), and collects hours whenever she can. So my father decided the drive to Wisconsin, with all the children and himself in the car, would be the perfect time to test her abilities. To give credit where it is due, she drives quite well. Nevertheless, at the beginning at least, I was terrified. And she knew it! Minx.
The boys, on the other hand, had quite comfortably lain back in their seats so that we could watch the Flintstones. The Flintstones are great. They offer you practical advice that should be obeyed in every marriage *wink*. And then there is a cry of "Shitake Mushrooms!" to enliven your experience. This is due to the fact that Wilma has been taking judo, and beating up prowlers because of it.
So you can imagine me, the terrified patient introduced to this new form of therapy, lying back in the chair, clutching the seat tightly, scared stiffless of my sister's newfound ability, and attempting to pay attention to Wilma onscreen. This after I irritated my brother profoundly by beginning a mantra that went, "Dustfinger drives very well. Dustfinger drives very well. Dustfinger drives very well," as though by repeating it more frequently, that would make it more true.
In any case, my father took us to the Jelly Belly Factory in Wisconsin!
Now, this factory is quite interesting. Firstly, Jelly Belly, after two years of hard work and effort, has acquired an OU. However, this OU applies only to products explicitly labeled as such or bulk products sold at the factory. Jelly Belly beans packaged with other hechsherim are "not recommended" by the CRC (Chicago Rabbinical Council.) Interestingly, we spoke to one of the workers (the one selling the candy) after our tour, and he mentioned that he had been personally involved in overseeing the change and noted that he'd been part of the crew cleaning and washing out bowls and vessels with hot water. This was after my father took it upon himself to explain why so many Orthodox Jews had chosen this particular day to flood into the factory. We did not, however, ask about the chocolates manufactured there, so we have no idea whether the chocolate products are kosher.
As to Jelly Belly itself, well, you get to ride on a train and go for a tour...and you get to wear a pretty hat...and you get to learn all about how Ronald Reagan popularized jelly beans! So much so, in fact, that Jelly Belly invented the flavor "blueberry" in order to give him an inauguration gift of red, white and blue jelly beans, and the Jelly Belly jelly beans were taken everywhere subsequently. This to the point that the President's private plane had a special ledge built to hold the jelly bean container, and the jelly beans were on Air Force One!
I found the mosaics pretty interesting, too. Did you know people actually make artwork out of Jelly Belly beans, including presidential? You can see pictures here.
And I learned how they make taffy with the shapes in the middle (like Christmas trees, or other shapes.) It's all pretty interesting.
Well, after the tour, my siblings and I went on a brave sampling spree. I refused, but my siblings decided to enjoy "Baby Wipes," "Toothpaste," and other similarly disturbing flavors (it's Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans brought to life.) I preferred Kiwi and Pomegranate, but my favorite flavor is Very Cherry. But then, I don't really like jelly beans. I'm much more of a chocolate/ cake/ brownie person. And we procured lots of "Belly Flops"- which are the jelly beans that are misshapen or misformed, and which Jelly Belly therefore sells as oddities, but not as their official product.
And then came the return ride! Along the way, I acquired a new piece of luggage (meaning that I will no longer suffer from clothing falling out of my duffel bag, hurrah!), the boys got sneakers, and Dustfinger enjoyed Aeropostale. And of course, we all got to experience the joy that is Dustfinger laughing uncontrollably on the highway while pushing seventy-five or so- and the thrills that entails. The next time you are in the car with someone whose head is bobbing up and down while they shake uncontrollably with laughter- and they are driving- do let me know.
I wonder what candy I would popularize if I were President. I think I would go with Reese's. Or Godiva. But probably Reese's. Somehow I never really thought of the presidency as a candy endorsement job until now.
As I side note, I think Sting's "Russians" rates high on my list of personally preferred political songs (and yes, higher than Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire.") "Russians" is more my thing- the tune is more my speed, alongside the lyrics. Aside from which, the line he uses is a reflection of Golda Meir's statement. What's your favorite political song (which is not actually official- i.e., not the national anthem?)