Jelly Belly founder giving away candy factory in hunt for gold tickets

Real-life Willy Wonka is hiding a winning ticket in each US state.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Expertise Breaking news, entertainment, lifestyle, travel, food, shopping and deals, product reviews, money and finance, video games, pets, history, books, technology history, generational studies. Credentials
  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
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Want to win $5,000 and a shot at your very own candy factory? David Klein, founder of candy company Jelly Belly, no longer owns the business, but he's playing Willy Wonka just the same. In a video posted to TheGoldTicket.com, Klein explains that he's hiding "gold tickets" -- they look like gold-colored military dog tags -- in each US state. And one person will win one of Klein's Florida candy factories. The 4,000-square foot factory isn't a Jelly Belly factory. Klein sold his stake in that company in 1980 and started fresh.

It's not as simple as when Charlie Bucket found his golden ticket in author Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory book. To play, hunters must pay $49.98 to receive the riddle that will help them hunt down the gold necklace. Different state riddles will be released on different days, beginning with Georgia's on Sept. 30. Those who pay will be allowed into a private Facebook group about their hunt, and only 1,000 people can participate in each hunt.

"We've already hidden quite a few of (the necklaces)," Klein said in the video. After the state necklaces are found, Klein says, "we're going to have the ultimate treasure hunt where the winner will be receiving a key to one of our candy factories." Contest rules are explained on the website.

"We're looking for you Charlie, out there," Klein said.