Yearlong Scavenger Hunt Nets Colorado Man a Candy Factory in Florida

Sept. 20, 2021
David Klein, creator of Jelly Belly jelly beans, hid clues in all 50 states.

A yearlong Willy Wonka-like scavenger hunt that would earn the finder a candy factory is over. A Colorado man solved the clues, found the golden tag in an Indiana park and may (or may not) take over the 4,000-sq.-ft. Florida factory offered as the prize by the creator of Jelly Belly jelly beans.

Several media reported Andrew Maas, a 39-year-old husband and father of two, on Aug. 28 found a small necklace with an attached golden ticket buried near a covered bridge in Kokomo, Ind. While elated over winning the contest, Maas may not take over the factory; instead, he is discussing a cash buyout from David Klein, who started this treasure hunt last September.

Klein, who told us he created Jelly Belly jelly beans in 1976 and sold the company as it started to peak in 1980, is 76 and apparently ready to retire from the candy-making business. A year ago he announced he hid "gold tickets" somewhere in all 50 states. They were findable with clues in the form of riddles he provided on a website, and those gold tickets contained further clues that would lead to the top prize.

One media story said 35,000 people tried solving the riddles. Our September 2020 story said it cost $50 to participate, and that each state's gold ticket was worth $5,000. Meaning Klein apparently has given away $250,000 in addition to the factory.

Last year, he and his partner, Stephanie Thirtyacre, drove around the country hiding the tickets in every state and then creating four-line riddles leading hunters to the prize, according to an NBC news story. One thousand people were allowed to register for each state hunt.

Maas registered for hunts in Colorado, Kansas, Wyoming and South Dakota, but never found a ticket, according to the Denver Post. What was supposed to be the final riddle was released Memorial Day weekend, but when the winning ticket went unfound, Klein provided more clues, which helped Maas narrow his search to just Illinois and Indiana.

On Aug. 28, Maas flew from Denver to Indianapolis, drove to Kokomo and found the winning ticket after a 30-minute search.

Klein confirmed the win. Maas was to receive the Florida plant, which makes an edible sand-art treat called Sandy Candy and other sweets, according to NBC. But unable to move his family to Florida, Maas reportedly is working on an agreement for Klein to buy the factory back from him.

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