Friday, May 23, 2014

Candyman: The David Klein Story

Note:  This is a review that's being reposted from my Epinions account.

One of the nice features of Netflix is that I get to watch a lot of movies streaming.  I don’t have to wait for a DVD to come in the mail; I can just start watching it whenever I want.  One of the movies I might not have otherwise watched is Candyman:  The David Klein Story.  I’ll admit that I never gave much thought to who came up with the idea for the Jelly Belly.  Jelly beans have been around forever.  I had always seen The Herman Goelitz Candy Company on the Jelly Belly packages and figured it was a specialized jelly bean.

The movie starts with David Klein saying that Jelly Belly ruined his life.  It’s a great hook, as far as hooks go.  Is it hyperbole or is he really in ruins?  If so, is it really Jelly Belly’s fault?  The movie starts by showing what Klein did to get the brand started.  He approached Goelitz about making a new, gourmet jelly bean with all sorts of flavors.  It seemed that jelly beans, up to this point, came in only a few flavors.  There was no reason we couldn’t have piña colada or root beer.  It was just a matter of someone coming up with the right formula.

This all started in 1976, the year I was born.  The Herman Goelitz Candy Company came up with the formulations, but David Klein did a lot of the work in terms of getting brand recognition and making sure stores were supplied.  He would go on talk shows, call potential clients and everything.  He also had the trademarks on Jelly Belly.

By 1980, Goelitz realized that they needed to expand.  They felt that they needed control of the entire operation to secure bigger and better loans.  They forcibly bought out what Klein owned for several million dollars.  His biggest mistake was in not getting a lawyer.  (This is odd considering that Klein graduated top of his class from UCLA law.)

It’s not a high-quality film, but it’s a story that needs to be told.  I’m sure there’s a slant in favor of Klein, especially considering that his son, Bert, is listed as one of the producers.  David Klein is shown as being a nice guy.  His son recalls a trip to Disneyland where David Klein bought a batch of balloons and passed most of them out.  He also is shown as renting an ice-cream truck and giving out the ice cream to kids.

It’s one of those stories that has two sides.  Yes, The Herman Goelitz Candy Company came up with the formulation, but Klein did do a lot of work promoting the product.  This was something that he wanted to see happen and he seemed to enjoy doing.  When I told my parents, my father laughed.  My mother felt like that was just business.  It’s sad that a company would take advantage of someone’s kindness.  I can totally believe that something like this would happen.  (Despite what happened, he’s still at it.  He and his daughter both invent candy, many of which were novelty candies.  There are a few that seem like they have a chance of taking off.)

Most of the documentary is David Klein and his son, Bert Klein.  There are other people that David Klein has known, including people he’s helped.  Strangely, there’s also “Weird Al” Yankovic.  I’m not sure what the connection is.  IMDb doesn’t seem to offer any trivia for this title, so I don’t know if he was a friend or if they happened to catch him on the street.

The movie also seems a bit long, especially towards the end.  It runs for about 75 minutes.  I felt like the last 15 were unnecessary, as it seemed like we had covered all of what there was to know.  One other complaint is that David Klein comes off as maybe a little bitter.  He doesn’t seem to care about the money.  Instead, he’d like the recognition for the work he put in.  On that note, I would recommend watching the movie.  I think he does deserve recognition for his contribution.  I don’t think a lot of people know this aspect of Jelly Belly’s history.  I’m not sure I’ll look at Jelly Belly the same way.


the candyman said...

Hello Brian...This is David Klein...Thank you for a great review....ALL MY BEST

Brian Kuhl said...

Thanks for the comment. Sorry it took me so long to respond.

the candyman said...

Hello Brian...Do you like coffee? We have a whole new line of coffee jelly beans coming out....ALL MY BEST