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 firstname.lastname@example.org.