The Colorful Candy Ronald Reagan Ate 720 Bags Of Monthly

Just like a president's policies, a POTUS' food choices can impact the nation. When former California governor Ronald Reagan took the highest office in 1981, his love for jelly beans followed him into the White House and beyond. In particular, The Gipper loved the popular Jelly Belly brand treats, eventually receiving 720 bags monthly.

Reagan's sweet cravings reportedly began in 1966, when he replaced pipe smoking with the colorful candy. During his two terms as governor (1966 through 1975), the candy company regularly supplied the Governor's office with jelly beans, even designing a special jar for Reagan to store them in. Time reported that Reagan and his staff at that time went through 24 bags of jelly beans a month, totaling 10,200 candies. 

According to Jelly Belly's official website, Reagan explained the need for the enormous amount of sweets in a letter to the company, saying, "We can hardly start a meeting or make a decision without passing the jar of jelly beans." 

When Reagan transitioned from governor to president, his staff and daily visitors grew, as did his monthly Jelly Belly order. During his two terms in office, Reagan's administration received 60 cases or 720 1-pound bags of Jelly Belly, tallying 306,000 beans monthly, which were distributed to federal buildings surrounding Washington D.C., including Capital Hill, ensuring Reagan was never too far away from the sugary treat. 

Ronald Reagan's love of Jelly Belly ran deep

The Herman Goelitz Company, which later became the Jelly Belly Candy Company, began in 1869 when Gustav Goelitz opened a confectionery in Belleville, Illinois (244 miles from Tampico, where Ronald Reagan was born). Initially, the company focused on chocolates, tangerine slices, gum drops, and candy corn. 

In 1976, the company launched Jelly Belly beans (formerly Goelitz Mini Jelly Beans) with eight flavors, including green apple, licorice, and tangerine, which are still its most popular flavors. Reportedly, of the 36 flavors offered by the time he became president, Reagan preferred the controversial black licorice. 

Another unique fact: During the former president's inaugural celebrations in 1981, 3.5 tons of Jelly Belly jelly beans were supplied for the festivities in the colors of the American flag: Red jelly beans were cherry-flavored, blue tasted like blueberries, and the white beans were coconut. And, when the Challenger launched from Cape Canaveral in 1983, Reagan gifted the astronauts red, yellow, black, and white Jelly Bellys from his personal stash, making them the first jelly beans in space. 

By the end of his second presidential term, it was nearly impossible not to associate Reagan with the candy. The company was even authorized to reproduce jelly bean jars with the Presidential Seal in 1981.

Many US presidents had a sweet tooth

Although Ronald Reagan is most associated with jelly beans, it wasn't the only sweet the late former president preferred. Along with his penchant for black licorice-flavored jelly beans, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum lists several additional treats he called his favorite foods. Brownies, chocolate chip cookies, carrot cake, and chocolate cake are listed as his favorite desserts. And pumpkin pie, monkey bread, and ice cream are included in his favorite food rundown. In case you were wondering, Reagan reportedly disliked Brussels sprouts, liver, and tomatoes — three flavors that the adventurous Jelly Belly hasn't played with yet. 

Reagan wasn't the only U.S. president to have a sweet tooth, either. In fact, several others shared his fondness for ice cream, including James Madison (whose wife Dolley is credited for popularizing the dessert), John F. Kennedy (who liked it with hot fudge), and Joe Biden, who once made stops to local shops on the campaign trail. Whether he was obligated to say it or not, Harry S. Truman also shared Reagan's fondness for chocolate cake (when it was made by Mrs. Truman).

So, although politicians seem divided into red or blue these days, there are a lot of commonalities when you analyze their favorite foods. Of course, aside from a few outliers like Richard Nixon's love of cottage cheese topped with ketchup and James Garfield and William Henry Harrison's strong taste for squirrels.