‘Snarky San Franciscan’ takes up ‘middle of nowhere’ Fairfield

By From page A3 | February 27, 2014

FAIRFIELD — A writer whose “Culture Blog” column describes Fairfield as the “middle of nowhere” and recounts her disappointment with the Jelly Belly factory tour says she’s sorry if her account – intended to represent a “snarky San Franciscan” – was offensive.

“I bet if I lived in New York I would refer to San Francisco as the ‘middle of nowhere,’ ” Beth Spotswood said.

Her “Tourist Trapped” story about the factory tour in Fairfield appeared Tuesday on the website of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Spotswood, 36, said, “I’m one of those horrible city people.”

She spoke about receiving many emails from people who read her column and remembered taking the Jelly Belly tour when they were in school.

Her account swoons over the gift shop, calls the factory immaculate and said it’s filled with hard-working employees creating delicious jelly beans for the world to enjoy. The 40-minute tour “is where one’s soul starts to weep,” wrote Spotswood, who describes the experience as old and worn.

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, who represents the 3rd Congressional District that includes Fairfield, said he’s gone with family members on the factory tour.

“We’ve had our grandkids there and they loved it,” he said. “It is cool. It is clean. It is good candy.”

“Jelly Belly is one wonderful place to go,” Garamendi said.

Tomi Holt, director of communications for the candy manufacturer, said, “Yelpers and bloggers visit us all the time. We enjoy reading the reviews because it tells us what visitors like and what we can improve.”

Fairfield Mayor Harry Price said the factory is not at some forlorn site.

“She wasn’t in the wilderness – either getting to or from Jelly Belly,” Price said of Spotswood.

The writer’s account doesn’t match the experience of hundreds of thousands of others, added the mayor, who spoke about the national popularity of the factory tour.

The Culture Blog also refers to Jelly Belly “super-fan Ronald Reagan” and contends that the tour rests “on the laurels of a dead, child-like president who made the brand so popular.”

Melissa Giller, representative of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Ventura County, declined to comment on the characterization. Reagan is still a beloved president, the library is a top attraction and Jelly Belly candy is displayed in the Air Force One at the library site as well as on a desk in a replica of the White House Oval Office, she said.

“Jelly Bellys are a huge seller here in our gift store,” Giller said.

Spotswood said describing Reagan as “child-like” is not new – and that’s she a Democrat and a San Franciscan with the politics to match.

“He’s dead, so I stand behind that one,” she added of the first part of her description.

The writer said her account isn’t intended as journalism.

“I am a goofy woman who went to Jelly Belly in Fairfield,” Spotswood said.

Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or [email protected]

Ryan McCarthy


Discussion | 9 comments

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  • I agreeFebruary 27, 2014 - 2:15 am

    Sorry but I agree with her... That tour is really really boring! If children are actually enjoying it they must not get out much. I have a feeling most kids are just excited about the free candy at the end.

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  • SixStrRzrFebruary 27, 2014 - 7:22 am

    "Much ado about nothing" - William Shakespeare.

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  • Brock KeelingFebruary 27, 2014 - 9:10 am

    Love Beth's writing and her work! Another thing: Reagan was both a horrible human being and tragic leader. In addition to having blood on his hands, he was not able-minded during most of his presidency — an American disgrace. May God have mercy on him.

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  • Be DevineFebruary 27, 2014 - 10:26 am

    Wow, you contacted a member of Congress, the Mayor, and a Presidential Library spokesperson to provide comment on a humorous blog post describing a tour of a jelly bean factory. News must be very slow .

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  • yourstrulyFebruary 27, 2014 - 10:56 am

    Getting all upset over some trivial review intended to be humorous, rather than some hard-hitting journalistic piece shows just how "middle of nowhere" this town is.

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  • WilloSFFebruary 27, 2014 - 11:09 am

    Wow. Slow news day? You called for quotes from the Reagan library because you were offended by someone's review of a jelly bean factory as boring? And they say print journalism is dead.

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  • PKFebruary 27, 2014 - 2:30 pm

    "He's dead, so I stand behind that one." Perfect. Laughed way too loud in public reading that. Well played, Beth.

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  • Steve reczkowskiFebruary 27, 2014 - 3:18 pm

    It is a boring tour, I lived in San Francisco and Fairfield, and found it boring both times I went. Jelly Belly and locals should accept the criticism and update the factory tour. Provide an updated experience for locals and tourists alike.

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  • Dexter FowlerFebruary 27, 2014 - 3:48 pm

    Well San Francisco is overrated. It stinks and its dirty and very overpriced.If Fairfield is the middle of nowhere then San Francisco is the middle of a manure farm.

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