Today on the NOM California tour, we’ll find out if Jelly Belly has jelly in their bellies
September 29, 2010
By Adam Bink
Yesterday I wrote that we at P8TT/NTT were inquiring into whether Jelly Belly condoned NOM’s stop at their Fairfield factory headquarters, which will be this morning at 9:30 AM PST. Several of you wrote in and received responses. For example, Kate’s inquiry received back:
Thank you for taking the time to write; we appreciate hearing your thoughts and concerns.
We were unaware of the “National Organization for Marriage” coming to visit prior to several emails that we received. We do not accept reservations for our free tours and tour buses often stop here for our free public tours. We have not rented any of our facilities for this group and no event or rally will be held here.
Thank you for being among our special Jelly Belly fans. We value your patronage.
Consumer Affairs Representative
and over at allied blog Joe.My.God, reader Carrie wrote in and received the same:
We were unaware of the “National Organization for Marriage” coming to visit prior to several emails that we received. We do not accept reservations for our free tours and tour buses often stop here for our free public tours. We have not rented any of our facilities for this group and no event or rally will be held here. Jelly Belly does not allow any group to promote their special interests, pass out flyers, or approach our visitors for their own interests at our public tours. We appreciate your offer to share with your blog community.
Sincerely, Kit McCoy
Consumer Affairs Manager
Jelly Belly Candy Company
Yesterday, we finally received our official response. Here’s P8TT/NTT friend and Frontiers in LA magazine news editor Karen Ocamb, who called the Jelly Belly spokespeople:
While everyone knows that Ronald Reagan had a penchant for jelly beans, LGBTs started wondering if the favorite candy maker was secretly antigay. I called Jelly Belly in Fairfield to find out. I spoke with Director of Communications Tomi Holt and John Jamison, Director of Retail Sales, in charge of the Gift Shop, tours and the Visitor Center. Jamison:
“We has absolutely no knowledge of this group coming to Jelly Belly prior to some emails and blogs posts yesterday.”
“That was our first notice and they did not contact us directly.”
Jamison said he looked at the NOM website to figure out who they were and what they were doing and concluded they were just stopping their as part of their tour. Holt said there is no rally planned – they host about a half a million people a year for their own “top rated tour” of their facility. She also said that is not unusual for folks traveling on the Interstate 80, half way between San Francisco and Sacramento. Holt said, “a lot of tour operators stop here with whatever tour they might be on.” Jamison said they have virtually no idea what kind of tour group might be coming and they don’t take reservations. Holt:
“It’s not a policy of the company; it’s not something that was arranged with us. We were a little bit surprised by all of this.”
“At the Visitor’s Center, I would rather look at us as being politically neutral. We welcome all guests….We would never get involved in something like that. Now if they wanted to rent our banquet facility or conference rooms and have a private event, they could do anything they wanted. But that’s not something that’s obviously happened because I would know about that.”
Jamison and Holt laughed when I asked if Jelly Belly has a political action committee – “Oh, no, no. We do not have a political action committee.” Holt added that she did not think the company made a contribution to the Prop 8 campaign, albeit she doesn’t know about individuals. Jamison:
“We had no signs on our campus that took a position – which is why we’re a little confused over all this.”
Holt said that the company abides by all state non-discrimination laws and Jamison said they undergo anti-discrimination training each year. They do not know if the company has domestic partnership benefits. Both Holt and Jamison were adamant that they had no idea why NOM is stopping at their site. “We’re scratching our heads asking the same question. We’ve never heard of them before. We don’t know who they are.” They just want people – including LGBT people “to continue loving Jelly Belly,” a Halloween treat. I think the folks at Jelly Belly will remember NOM now – and not in a sweet way.
A few thoughts:
1. Clearly they never saw this coming, and by the tenor of various responses, are worried about a Target-style boycott. You can tell they’re trying to distance themselves.
2. The question this raises for me is what will happen this morning. Two official company representatives have said “no event or rally will be held here”, and “Jelly Belly does not allow any group to promote their special interests, pass out flyers, or approach our visitors for their own interests at our public tours.” That leaves Vota Tus Valores with few options. Will security force the Vota Bus off the premises? Will NOM be allowed to solicit Jelly Belly tourists in support of political candidate? If so, how far from the actual factory and gift shop will they be permitted to do so?
Will Jelly Belly stand firm on their statements? Or do they have jelly in their bellies?
We’ll see what happens this morning. Stay tuned.