All Presidents have their culinary pleasures, from James Madison’s passion for ice cream to George H.W. Bush’s fondness for pork rinds. But few Presidents loved snacks to the degree that Ronald Reagan loved jelly beans, a food that he initially relied on to help kick his pipe smoking habit in 1966. At the time, Reagan’s preferred brand was Goelitz Mini Jelly Beans, which were produced by an Oakland-based company that sent Reagan monthly shipments while he served as governor of California. In 1976, one year after Reagan left that office, the company introduced the Jelly Belly brand, which became the politician’s favorite (particularly the licorice flavor). When Reagan was elected President, the company even developed new blue beans in honor of his presidential inauguration in 1981.
Reagan requested red, white, and blue jelly beans for the event, figuring it would be a fittingly patriotic spread. Jelly Belly already had red- and white-colored beans (Very Cherry and coconut, respectively), but there was no blue jelly bean at the time. To remedy this, Jelly Belly made a new blueberry-flavored bean to complete the trifecta of American colors. When the day of Reagan’s inauguration arrived in January 1981, Jelly Belly sent a 3.5-ton shipment of jelly beans to the White House to commemorate the occasion. After Reagan took office, his administration gave Jelly Belly the OK to produce jars decorated with the presidential seal, which the President handed out as gifts to foreign dignitaries and other notable figures.