David Klein invented one of the most recognizable candies in the United States in the 1970s, Jelly Belly Jelly Beans, but in 2010 he said, “People don’t know who I am, basically, in the industry. I’m the best-kept secret in the world.” He said that in the documentary called Candyman: The David Klein Story, which looks at Klein’s passion for candy and bringing happiness to people but also losing the most successful idea of his career.
Klein lost the rights to his invention due to a pivotal and regretful business decision he and his business partner made around 1980 in which they sold Jelly Belly to The Goelitz Candy Company. With that, Klein’s recognition as the inventor of Jelly Belly would sink into the oblivion of collective memory, and Klein never saw the kind of success with his new candy inventions as he did with Jelly Belly.
But Klein’s passion for candy, fun, and simple pleasures is now manifesting in a new way, as he launches a nationwide treasure hunt for Golden Tickets, Willy Wonka style.
Klein wrote on the contest Facebook Page, “We started this to have fun and to bring excitement to a world that is so troubled.”
Winners of the treasure hunt in each state will win $5,000, but it costs $49.98 to enter. Out of all the $5,000 winners, the “ultimate” winner will become the owner of one of Klein’s candy factories.
In a press release about the Treasure Hunt, he said, “With the Gold Ticket Treasure Hunt, our goal is to get people out and about with their families. Grandma and Grandpa can even join with the kids and take videos of your treasure hunt experiences for possible inclusion in our upcoming series.”
Here is what you need to know:
1. The Contest Winner Will Not Get a Jelly Belly Factory Because Klein Sold Those Rights in 1980, But Klein Has Continued to Invent & Create New Candies
Klein, aka “The Candyman” owns a company called Tricky Treasures, which is hosting the treasure hunt and he runs a website where he sells his unique candies called, Candyman Kitchens.
There he wrote:
My name is David Klein, and I have the honor of being known as the original inventor, and the first person to dream up the idea for the product Jelly Belly® jelly beans. Back in 1976, I owned Garvey Nut & Company. I came up with the idea for a new type of jelly bean— “Jelly Belly®”—and asked a candy company to make a starter batch for me from the concept I created. My first flavors were Very Cherry, Tangerine, Lemon, Green Apple, Grape Jelly, Licorice, Root Beer, and Cream Soda. I rented out a corner of an ice cream shop and tried my luck selling my creation. It paid off – the beans were a huge success, and we even made the newspapers!
But in the first lines of his 2010 documentary, he says of inventing Jelly Belly, “Yes I regret the day I came up with them, I really do. Why? Why…because it’s ruined my life.”
According to the documentary, only four years after getting his Jelly Belly Beans on the market through the Goelitz Candy Company, Klein and his then partner sold the rights and recipes to the company for $4.8 million in 1980, which was paid out in $10,000 per month increments to each partner for the span of 20 years.
2. Jelly Belly Exploded in Popularity After Klein Sold it, With President Ronald Reagan Being a Huge Fan
In 1976 the Goelitz Candy Company started producing Klein’s Jelly Beans, though he still had the rights to the product. Their company website advertises their new flavors that year as being “breakthrough” recipes, the eight flavors that Klein originally invented. By 1980 the company was advertising 40 total new flavors of Jelly Belly beans, and it turned out that the new President, Ronald Reagan was a big fan of the product.
According to the Jelly Belly website, around 3.5 tons of the candies were shipped to D.C for Reagan’s inauguration. Decades of success continued for the Goelitz Candy company, which had been around since 1869. Klein’s recipes for Jelly Belly were so successful that by 2001 the Geolitz Candy Company changed its name to the Jelly Belly Candy Company.
That was just after the 20-year pay off was settled. In 2006, The Jelly Belly Candy Company sold $160,000,000 worth of product, according to the Candyman Documentary. Klein continued inventing new candies for years, but none found the success of Jelly Belly.
3. Klein Was Unhappy About Not Getting Credit for Inventing Jelly Belly
In the documentary on Klein’s life, he points out that in the history of Jelly Belly as told by the former Goelitz Candy Company completely leaves out his contribution to the product. He says of the history of the Jelly Belly Candy Company, “If you can find my name in there, you’re a better guy than I am.” He also said that when the candy was getting so much fame in 1981 and People Magazine did a story on it, his name wasn’t mentioned at all.
Klein said, “I mean it’s almost like history. Dave? Dave Klein? We don’t know him at all.”
His wife said, “All David really cared about was the recognition, and he felt that he was not treated with the respect that he deserved.”
Rather, things like his daughter’s invention, Sandy Candy, are sold there, which is sand art kids can make and then eat. He also sells “Bible Candy” with “Salvation” colors and is touted as a “Teach and Eat” candy. Alternately, the company sells “Crime Scene Candy Blood and Blood Clots.”
4. The ‘Boots on the Ground Treasure Hunt’ Invites People to Solve Riddles to Find Hidden Golden Necklaces
Klein and his partner, Stephanie Thirtyacre, are hiding gold-colored chains with dog-tag looking plates on them “in places they come across with an interesting story,” according to the press release. There will be multiple “Gold Tickets” in each state.
The riddle release dates do vary by state though. You can find the release date for your state by clicking here. In a short video posted by Klein and Thirtyacre, they said that there are already some of the gold tickets hidden with many more to come.
Facebook accounts are required for all participants, because that’s where those who sign up will participate in a private forum, according to the Gold Ticket website. Cars will be necessary too, as people will have to drive around their state to find the coveted prizes.
Whoever finds the gold tickets then sends in the code on the tag along with where they found the Gold Ticket to the Tricky Treasure’s email to collect their $5,000 prize and be entered to win “The Ultimate Treasure.”
In the video posted by the pair, they don’t give much in the way of details as to what candy factory is up for the win, or where it is, only saying the winner of the “Ultimate Treasure” gets a key to one of his candy factories.
5. Klein Said He’s Had to Remove People From the Treasure Hunt Facebook Page for Being ‘Haters’& Tried to Start a Tie-Dye Wearing Trend to Stand Up To Racism This Summer
In a Facebook Post, Tuesday Klein wrote that people are detracting from the joy that the Treasure Hunt is meant to bring, saying, “So many people have responded favorably to what we are doing. Unfortunately, there have been a few haters that are attempting to take away the fun. I believe in freedom of speech but to be called a scam is so wrong…We will be removing members whose only intent is to take away any joy that this is giving everyone.”
This isn’t the first time in recent months that Klein has tried to emphasize positivity in the face of the difficulties in the nation.
On May 31, shortly after George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer, sparking months of protests, he pushed for people to pull out their tie-dye clothes as a stand against racism.
On June 1, he posted something similar, this time pointing out how racism is the same as it was 55 years ago. He wrote: This is The Candyman…..Almost 55 years ago I was delivering my Big Dave’s Popcorn to a liquor store in Watts, California. The African-American community has dealt with racism all these years and apparently not much has changed. I’m again asking that everyone who stands against racism break out their tie-dye to express their wish for peace and need for equality among us all.
To learn more about the Gold Ticket Treasure Hunt, visit TheGoldTicket.com.