Friday, April 4, 2008
Peter Rocha and Roger Rocha - Jelly Bean Mosaics
We took eleven-year-old Maya to the Jelly Belly Candy factory in Fairfield, CA. yesterday. The factory floor was a maze of conveyer belts, robots, tumbling drums and trays full of brightly colored beans in various stages of development. We were stunned to learn that it takes seven to 21 days for a Jelly Belly to complete the evolution from sugary slurry to fully formed, tasty treat.
All along the tour route there were Jelly Belly mosaics created by San Francisco artist Roger Rocha, the self-proclaimed king of jelly bean art. Roger follows in the footsteps of his uncle, Peter Rocha, who was the first notable area jelly bean mosaic artist.
We saw portraits of Elvis, Amelia Earhart ....and Ronald Reagan, who ordered three and a half tons of the candy for his presidential inauguration in 1981. (Doesn't it just warm your heart to realize your tax dollars were spent on such a meaningful endeavor?) The blueberry Jelly Belly flavor was created so that Ronnie could serve red, white and blue Jelly Belly beans at his inaugural parties.
We weren't allowed to take photographs during the tour itself, but there were a number of mosaics in the lobby that we could take photos of. Please excuse my uneven photographs. Most were taken while being pushed through the lobby by a throng of tourists.
It can take up to six months to create one of these mosaic masterpieces.
In recognition of the 50-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II, the sweet portrait (above) made from over 10,000 individual Jelly Belly beans depicts the Queen at the time of her coronation in 1952. The royal portrait measures 4 feet by 4 feet and weighs in at some 40,000 calories.
The portrait went on display in London's Oxford Street during Jubilee weekend and toured throughout the United Kingdom during the summer of 2002.
And speaking of political figures, here we have a portrait of the first U.S. President, George Washington:
...and while we're on the subject of Georges....this portrait of George Clooney is but one of more than 75 individual portraits of celebrities and political images created by the two Rochas for the Jelly Belly company. This piece - which features Cotton Candy beans for George’s cheeks and Buttered Popcorn candy for his highlighted hair - will be donated to a charity of George’s choice.
This shimmering sweet bean portrait of Marilyn Monroe was on display at the Luxe Hotel during last Golden Globe Awards ceremony in tinsel town.
The Jelly Belly art collection seemed to have a particular patriotic slant. It included this one of the Statue of Liberty:
Statue of Liberty
...and this one of Ben Franklin:
The next time I find myself with a surplus of jelly beans, I think I'll give this a try.
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