A Presidential Passion
Recalling Ronald Reagan's Jellybean Obsession
This blog is exclusively a non-political forum, but for this post we’ll make a small exception. As we balance the religious significance of Easter with the bunny and the basket tradition, the holiday serves as a yearly reminder that, in a simpler time, our 40th President had an insatiable craving for jellybeans. His name was Ronald Reagan.
Reagan started consuming mass quantities of jellybeans in the 1960s as part of his strategy to quit smoking. The trade-off was completely successful, and the former actor was quick to credit the candy as he ascended the political ranks.
About the same time that Reagan was elected Governor of California, the in-state Goelitz Candy Company began to produce the “Jelly Belly” line of beans. When the operation found out about Reagan’s new vice, it shipped him a sample and the politician became Jelly Belly’s biggest fan. Goelitz recognized Reagan’s appeal, launching a relationship that would supply him with Jelly Belly beans for years. By the time he became President in 1981, Reagan had a standing order with Goelitz for 720 bags per month, which were shipped to various federal buildings in DC. Jars adorned his Oval Office desk, the Cabinet meeting office, and Air Force One. Reagan even instructed NASA to include Jelly Belly beans among the Space Shuttle rations! The President’s favorite flavor was licorice, and he would offer tastings to virtually every person he met. Ronald Reagan once memorably explained “you can tell a lot about a fellow’s character by his way of eating jellybeans.”
Jelly Belly beans became so popular that profits doubled, and Goelitz had to build a new factory to keep up with demand.
Years later, when Bill Clinton became President, Reagan knew just the thing to welcome him to the White House. Who doesn't like jellybeans?