Jelly Belly jelly beans exemplify so-called American ingenuity: They took what had basically been colorful but boring sugar balls ubiquitous in the bottom of Easter Baskets and made them into a flavor empire hailed by at least one president of the United States, Ronald Reagan.

In many ways, Jelly Belly also put Fairfield on the map. Its corporate office there became a tourist stop for people wanting to take the tour and a community meeting place for locals celebrating holidays or holding business luncheons.

Now the nearly 50-year-old jelly bean confectioning juggernaut has announced that it is being sold to another giant American sweets company, Chicago-based Ferrara Candy Company. Ferrara announced Wednesday that it would acquire Jelly Belly for an undisclosed amount of money.

The privately-owned Ferrara already churns out Nerds, Lemonheads and SweeTarts, along with gummy brands Trolli and Black Forest.

Herman Rowland, Jelly Belly chairman of the board of directors, said in a statement that Ferrara is a “likeminded” candy company that will grow the brand. Rowland also mentioned that it would be a “win-win” for employees.

According to a news release about the acquisition, once the deal closes, nearly 800 Jelly Belly employees globally and in California and Illinois will join the Ferrara organization.

Jelly Belly was founded in 1869 near St. Louis as the Goelitz Confectionery Company, which was known for its candy corn. In 1976 the company began its jelly bean endeavors.

Katy St. Clair got her start in journalism by working in the classifieds department at the East Bay Express during the height of alt weeklies, then sweet talked her way into becoming staff writer, submissions editor, and music editor. She has been a columnist in the East Bay Express, SF Weekly, and the San Francisco Examiner. Starting in 2015, she begrudgingly scaled the inverted pyramid at dailies such as the Vallejo Times-Herald, The Vacaville Reporter, and the Daily Republic. She has her own independent news site and blog that covers the delightfully dysfunctional town of Vallejo, California, where she also collaborates with the investigative team at Open Vallejo. A passionate advocate for people with developmental disabilities, she serves on both the Board of the Arc of Solano and the Arc of California. She lives in Vallejo.