Did you know that April 22nd is National Jelly Bean Day? What is it about this sweet treat that makes them such a favorite? They’re small. They’re portable. They’re even low-fat! And they come in literally hundreds of flavors. So what if they stick to your teeth? With Easter Bunny baskets empty (that was quick!), jelly beans still fill our hearts’ delight. Originally invented in Illinois, the tiny treat has deep roots in LAlaland, as it was right here that a distributor brainstormed the first ‘naturally’ flavored versions, which we now all know as Jelly Bellys. A California Governor-turned President turned them into Oval Office munchies. And the Harry Potter inspired gross-out varieties –ready for earwax and dirt? – has fueled the candy’s popularity with new generations of Potter fans.

So here are 7 local sweet spots where you can celebrate by picking a ‘penny candy’ bag of your best beans:

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The Original Jelly Bean Factory
The Factory introduced SoCal to the Jelly Belly brand: if you can’t find your favorite here, it doesn’t exist. Classics like French Vanilla, Cantaloupe and Chocolate Pudding abound alongside nostalgic brands like Cold Stone Creamery, Harry Potter Bertie Bott’s, Soda Pop Shoppe 7Up and Dr. Pepper. The Chocolate-Dipped Coconut or Very Cherry may be the kiddos’ (and your) best argument to skip lunch. And don’t let the name fool you, the Factory carries sugary treats of all kinds, specializing in custom orders for every occasion, from baby showers to bar mitzvahs.

The Original Jelly Bean Factory
927 No. Hollywood Way
Burbank, Ca 91505
Phone: 818-848-4806
Online: jellybeans4u.com

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Candy Baron
Sweetly situated off Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade, the Candy Baron boasts plentiful bins of jelly beans and friendly attendants who allow sampling before filling a bag. This old-time shop brings the sea to the shore, best known for its impressive assortment of saltwater taffy.

Candy Baron
1315 Third Street Promenade
Santa Monica, Ca 90401
Phone: 877-798-2339
Online: thecandybaron.com

Dylan’s Candy Bar
The Original Farmer’s Market happily hosts the ‘Left Coast’ branch of this NYC emporium. Small but mighty, Dylan’s LA packs a real punch: short on square footage, long on variety. Every texture and taste is represented to satisfy all picky peewee palettes. Kiddos choose from a rainbow assortment of jelly beans, alongside bins of gummies, sours and a plethora of hard candies. Your dentist will smile too over an array of sugar-free selections.

Tip: The whole back of the store is dedicated to jelly beans, M&Ms and other candies sorted by color, which is very hand when you’re looking for birthday favors and cake decorations.

Dylan’s Candy Bar
633 W. 3rd St.
Los Angeles, Ca 90036
Phone: 323-930-1600
Online: dylanscandybar.com

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It’Sugar
It’Sugar takes the prize for the noisiest store at Universal City; between the music and the munchkins, it’s a mini-amusement park in itself. You’ll find eclectic flavors like Tabasco and bacon alongside popular Hello Kitty boxes filled with Cotton Candy, Bubble Gum and Strawberry Cheesecake Jelly Bellys. While browsing, measure the kiddies height against a giant Tootsie Pop or extra long Twizzlers. Warning: stay away if you have even a hint of a headache.

It’Sugar
Universal City Walk
1000 Universal Center Drive, Suite 120
Universal City, Ca 91608
Phone: 818-506-5184
Online: itsugar.com

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Montrose Candy Co.
Step back in time into this neighborhood gem that stocks a full line of gourmet mixes from Jelly Belly.  Tropical, Fruit Bowl, Smoothie, Sours – pick from the ‘official’ 50 flavors – including Cold Stone and Soda Pop Shoppe varieties, with Bertie Bott’s to boot.

Montrose Candy Co.
2317A Honolulu Ave.
Montrose, Ca 91020
Phone: 818-249-5507
Online: montrosecandy.com

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Munchies
Certified kosher, this jam-packed emporium offers the biggest selection of Gimbal’s Jelly Beans this side of San Francisco. Known for their real fruit juice, Gimbal’s fun flavors range from Hot Cinnamon to Buttered Popcorn to Lemon Meringue. Watch out for the numerous novelty pops or the kids may walk out sucking baby bottles of goo and spraying gummy candy.

Munchies
8859 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, Ca 90035
Phone: 310-777-0221
Online: lamunchies.com

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Sweet!
If Willy Wonka lived in LA, this is where you’d find him. Too bad Sweet! doesn’t (officially) offer childcare: Set ‘em loose — it could hours, even days before they come up for air. Equal parts candy store, gift shop and games arcade, Sweet is ridiculously entertaining, encompassing a dozen distinct ‘boutiques.’ Design your own bar at the Chocolate Lab, munch marshmallows with Stay Puft or lick one at Lollywood. Somewhere in there you may find jelly beans too. Lot of them, in every flavor. Enough flavors and colors to create a mosaic of Harry Potter, even. It’s like magic!

Sweet!
6801 Hollywood Blvd.
Hollywood, Ca 90028
Phone: 323-462-3111
Online: sweetlosangeles.com

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Worth the drive: Your crew ready for a road trip? The Jelly Belly Factory is a mere six-hour drive up I-5, in Fairfield (halfway between San Francisco & Sacramento) and is the ultimate bean homage destination.

Where do you go for your sugar fix?  And what’s your favorite flavor jelly bean?

–Kim Orchen Cooper

Photos courtesy of Dylan’s Candy Bar via facebook, It’Sugar via facebook, jennifrog via Creative Commons, TheodoreWLee via Creative Commons, Jellybelly.com and Meghan Rose.