Candy factory giveaway: Willy Wonka-like ‘golden ticket’ search begins this week


In this Oct. 12, 2011 photo, David Klein, a man who invented the Jelly Belly, poses for photos in Covina, Calif. Klein is the Willie Wonka of this small Los Angeles suburb, joyfully leading children and their parents past mounds of chewy, crunchy, sugary confections with names like Sandy Candy, Zombie Heart and Gummy Bacon. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

DALLAS (NEXSTAR) — A massive nationwide treasure hunt with a candy factory at stake is set to start this week in Georgia.

The man behind the Jelly Belly name is hosting a series of treasure hunts around the country before his retirement. Anyone who participates could be eligible to search for the ultimate treasure: a key to one of his candy factories.

According to a press release, David Klein and his partner have traveled across the country hiding “gold style tickets in the form of necklaces in places they come across with an interesting story.”

Klein, who was the original developer of the Jelly Belly branding, sold his stake in the company 40 years ago. His current candy company is named Spectrum Confections.

Those who wish to participate will need to pay an entry fee of about $50 to receive a clue in their state. Each treasure hunt is limited to 1,000 participants.

The first clue will be released in Georgia on Sept. 30, with more being revealed in the other states over the next few weeks. Tickets to participate in the initial Georgia contest have already sold out.

The next searches are set for Virginia, Tennessee, West Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, South Carolina, Alabama and Florida.

Tickets are still available in some states and already sold out for others.

“We’re gonna have the ultimate treasure hunt where the winner will be receiving a key — a key to one of our candy factories,” Klein, who is known as “The Candyman,” said in a video announcing the game.

“We’re looking for you, Charlie, out there,” Klein said in a nod to Roald Dahl’s classic novel, “Charlie and the Charlie Factory.”

Several headlines across the nation implied that the winner would get the keys to a Jelly Belly factory, but the company says it has had no association with Klein in years.

“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,” the company said in an online statement.

Few details exist about what factory the winner will receive, though multiple media reports indicate the facility will be in Florida.

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