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Jelly Belly founder will give away a candy factory in Willy Wonka-inspired contest

The candy maker has channeled his inner Willie Wonka by launching a nationwide ‘gold ticket’ treasure hunt to give away one of his factories before he retires. 

David Klein, the founder of Jelly Belly jelly beans, has taken inspiration from Roald Dahl’s children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and its film adaptations with his new contest, but participants have to do a little more than buy a chocolate bar to win the grand prize. 

In a video message, Klein explained that he and his partner have started hiding gold tickets in the form of dog tag necklaces in locations across the U.S. with the plan of having multiple treasure hunts in each state. 

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Surprise! David Klein, the founder of Jelly Belly jelly beans, has announced a nationwide treasure hunt in which the grand prize is the keys to one of his factories

Surprise! David Klein, the founder of Jelly Belly jelly beans, has announced a nationwide treasure hunt in which the grand prize is the keys to one of his factories

Candyman: Klein has taken inspiration from Roald Dahl’s children's book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and its film adaptations (pictured) with his new 'gold ticket' contest

Candyman: Klein has taken inspiration from Roald Dahl’s children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and its film adaptations (pictured) with his new ‘gold ticket’ contest

Participants have to pay $49.98 to receive the riddle or clue to take part in each treasure hunt, but there are only 1,000 entries available per state.    

‘You will be looking for a Gold Ticket in the form of a necklace with a tag that includes a code you need to use to verify your find,’ the contest’s website states. ‘Winners will receive $5,000.’

Klein, who calls himself a ‘real-life Candyman,’ said they will also have an ‘ultimate treasure hunt’ where the winner will receive a key to one of his factories — and everyone who buys a ticket is eligible to win.   

The grand prize comes with full ownership of the building and a candy-making course at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.








Getting started: Klein said they have started hiding gold tickets in the form of tag necklaces in locations across the U.S. with the plan of having multiple treasure hunts in each state

Getting started: Klein said they have started hiding gold tickets in the form of tag necklaces in locations across the U.S. with the plan of having multiple treasure hunts in each state

Klein, who is no longer associated with Jelly Belly, plans on giving away one of his Candyman Kitchens in Florida, though it’s unclear which location.  

‘The world needs this right now, we have received thousands of comments from people who say this has come at such a perfect time,’ he said. 

The first riddle is to be released in Georgia at the end of September.    

The reactions on the contest’s Facebook page are mixed, with some people overly excited about the prospect of winning and others unsure what exactly they have signed up for. 

‘Devil’s advocate here: Each state is limited to 1,000 entries. The finder of the golden necklace in each state must have a ticket to claim the prize. What’s to stop people from finding the necklace that did not pay for the ticket?’ one person asked. 

Big win: The grand prize winner will get the keys to one of his Candyman Kitchens in Florida

Big win: The grand prize winner will get the keys to one of his Candyman Kitchens in Florida 

Following his announcement, Jelly Belly released a statement making it clear that Klein's contest doesn't have anything to do with its jelly bean company

Following his announcement, Jelly Belly released a statement making it clear that Klein’s contest doesn’t have anything to do with its jelly bean company

‘Bought entry 2 days ago for Illinois. I might be in over my head on this contest but the opportunity to own a factory seemed too good to pass up. Either way, I’m here now and I’m giving it a shot,’ someone else shared. 

One woman said she spoke to Klein himself on the phone, and he assured her that the contest is not a scam. 

Meanwhile, Jelly Belly has released a statement making it clear that the treasure hunt has nothing to do with its company.   

‘Due to confusion in the marketplace, Jelly Belly Candy Company would like to take this opportunity to clear up the misconception that it is involved with a contest that purportedly offers a candy factory as its grand prize,’ the company said in an online statement. 

‘In 1976, Mr. Klein, an independent third party, came up with the name “Jelly Belly” and other novel marketing ideas. Jelly Belly Candy Company has not had a relationship with Mr. Klein since 1980 when it acquired the trademark.’

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