FAIRFIELD (CBS13) — A Willy Wonka-type contest is capturing global attention, but it may not be what you think.
David Klein, who calls himself “the Candyman,” launched the treasure hunt last week in a news release sent to the media with the headline, “Jelly Belly® Founder to Give Away One of His Candy Factories in Worldwide Treasure Hunt.”
Klein says he’s getting ready to retire and hiding treasures in the form of gold dog tags in every state. The finders get $5,000, with one ultimate treasure: a key to one of his candy factories, an all-expenses-paid trip, and education at a candy-making university.
The release says you pay $49.99 to enter at TheGoldTicket.com and get a riddle. The contest is limited to 1,000 participants per treasure hunt.
Klein and his business partner Stephanie Thirtyacre have hosted live chats to answer questions, and have expressed surprise by the response.
“This is insane. Our website has crashed,” said Thirtyacre.
Although Klein mentions he’s the founder of Jelly Belly in his news release, we’ve learned this contest has absolutely nothing to do with the Solano County-based company. Klein confirms it in the video chat, saying his factory is in Hawthorne, Florida.
“Are you giving away a Jelly Belly factory?“ asked Thirtyacre during the live chat. “No.”
“Some people think I’m giving away a Jelly Belly factory,” answered Klein. “I don’t know how they came up with that.”
“He founded Jelly Belly!” said Thirtyacre.
The Jelly Belly company in Fairfield acknowledges Klein came up with the Jelly Belly name and some marketing ideas in the 1970s but said it has not had a relationship with him since 1980 when it acquired the trademark.
A spokesperson added, “David Klein, the sponsor of the treasure hunt, is not associated with Jelly Belly Candy Company, its brands, or products.”
Klein says he sold out in California, which would mean $50,000 raised in just the Golden State. Dates have not been given for the treasure hunts.
Klein has publicly posted his phone number so you can talk with him directly. When CBS13 called, we got a full mailbox. His company makes CBD candy, among other sweets. He has said he’ll ship 40 CBD jelly beans to those who enter.
“We’re not a scam,” Klein said.
Below is the full statement from the Jelly Belly Company:
“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. 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. 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.”