Jelly Belly Inventor Giving Away 1 of His Factories in Willy Wonka-Style Treasure Hunt

A gold necklace that looks like a ticket will be hidden in each state

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It looks like we may have a real-life Willy Wonka. Jelly Belly jelly beans inventor and candy maker David Klein is giving away a key to one of his candy factories.

No longer affiliated Jelly Belly, Klein now operates Candyman Kitchens, which sells edible sand art and custom candies.

Here’s how it works: A gold necklace that looks like a ticket will be hidden in each state. People interested can pay $49.98 to get a clue for their state. Only 1,000 tickets will be sold per state.

“You will be looking for a Gold Ticket in the form of a necklace with a tag that includes a code you need to use to verify your find. Winners will receive $5,000," a description of the contest reads.

The clue that players receive will assist people in tracking down the ticket. Whoever finds the necklace will get a code that they have to email to in order to confirm it’s correct. If that happens, the person will win $5,000.

After the necklace has been found in each state, though, the real fun begins.

“We’re going to have the ultimate treasure hunt where the winner will be receiving a key to one of our candy factories,” Klein said in a YouTube video announcing the promotion. It's not clear which factory the winner will receive, but he wrote in the contest Facebook group that the factory is somewhere in Florida.

Anyone who competed in the initial hunt — not just the winners in each state — can compete for the key.

“We’re looking for you, Charlie, out there,” Klein added, in a nod to “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”

To be clear, though, Klein is not giving away a key to an official Jelly Belly factory. The company is not involved in Klein's treasure hunt.

"Due to confusion in the marketplace, Jelly Belly Candy Company would like to take this opportunity to clear up the misconception that it is involved with a contest that purportedly offers a candy factory as its grand prize," a Jelly Belly spokesperson said in a statement to TODAY Food. "Jelly Belly Candy Company, formerly known as Herman Goelitz Candy Company, has candy making roots back to 1869. It was founded by brothers Gustav and Albert Goelitz and remains family-owned and operated today."

"David Klein, the sponsor of the 'treasure hunt' contest gaining attention within the media this weekend, is not associated with Jelly Belly Candy Company, its brands, or products," the statement continued. "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."

Reaction to the contest has been mixed, with fans chiming in on the Facebook page claiming they've had some issues.

"I am getting a message 'Sorry, it seems that there are no available payment methods for your state. Please contact us if you require assistance or wish to make alternate arrangements'. Anyone know what the alternative is?" one person asked.

"Has anyone else not received a confirmation email regarding their order?" another asked.

Klein himself responded to some of the negative feedback.

"We started this to have fun and to bring excitement to a world that is so troubled..So many people have responded favorably to what we are doing," he wrote.

"Unfortunately there have been a few haters that are attempting to take away the fun..I believe in freedom of speech but to be called a scam is so wrong...We will be removing members whose only intent is to take away any joy that this is giving everyone.."

EDITOR'S NOTE (Sept. 8, 2020, 9:49 p.m. EST): This article has been updated with a statement from Jelly Belly, clarifying that it is not involved in David Klein's treasure hunt.

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