The city of Chicago will soon have a second version of its famous “bean.” One that is 10 feet long, five feet high, and seven feet deep. And wait'll you hear what it's made of!
Teenage students from the city’s After School Matters program are busy creating an “alternate universe” version of the iconic Cloud Gate sculpture, a popular attraction that resides in Chicago’s Millennium Park. The famous reflective landmark is better known to Chicagoans as “The Bean.”
Appropriately enough, this new bean will be completely coated with beans, thousands of them—dark chocolate-covered Jelly Belly jelly beans, that is—and will be unveiled at the For the Love of Chocolate Foundation gala, an annual scholarship fundraiser for Chicago’s French Pastry School.
The new bean will be a smaller sized (although not small!) replica of the original, festooned in Chocolate Dips from Jelly Belly and colorful mosaic depictions of the Chicago skyline and other artwork created with Jelly Belly jelly beans. Those beans have been painstakingly applied one by one by After School Matters students under the tutelage of Gloria Hafer, After School Matters Culinary instructor.
When completed, the jelly bean “Bean” sculpture will be transported downtown to the Merchandise Mart where it will be displayed at the February 25th gala.
The origin of the idea
Jelly Belly Candy Company, a major sponsor of the For the Love of Chocolate Scholarship Foundation, was approached by the pastry school’s Franco Pacini, who had heard about Jelly Belly’s newest confection, chocolate-coated jelly beans called Chocolate Dips. The candy reminded Pacini of the Cloud Gate sculpture. “It looked just like The Bean,” Pacini noted.
The French Pastry School often works in partnership with After School Matters, a program that provides after-school activities for teenage kids on throughout Chicago. Pacini got in touch with Hafer--who is in her 40th year of teaching, many of those now spent in working with After School Matters kids--and he told her of his idea. Hafer says she teaches her students to think outside the box, and this idea sounded far enough outside the box to be a good one.
Jelly Belly supplied the jelly beans and now the After School Matters students are providing the labor and creativity.
Hafer says about 98 percent of the students who come to her program are from families at or below the poverty level. In addition to Hafer’s classes in basic culinary skills and nutrition, After School Matters students, ranging in age from 14 to 20, can take part in classes in dance, vocal music, modeling and more.
Many of Hafer’s students have earned scholarships to the French Pastry School and many have gone on to outstanding culinary careers, including a former student who is now a pastry chef for Rick Bayless, Chicago’s well-known restaurateur and celebrity “Top Chef.”
Another former After School Matters student and current Pastry School student and scholarship recipient, Elizabeth Dew, is hard at work creating an all-chocolate dress which will be shown at the For the Love of Chocolate gala.
There is one more Chicago tie-in to this event: Jelly Belly jelly beans are actually made in North Chicago, so sponsorship of this event is important to the organization. Tomi Holt, Director of Communications for the Jelly Belly Candy Company, says, "We have a plant that’s been in North Chicago since 1913 and where we make 100 other fine confections in addition to Jelly Belly beans."
After its debut at the Chicago gala, the new bean masterpiece will move on to the Jelly Belly candy factory in Kenosha, Wis., where it will be on display for all the Jelly Belly jelly bean makers to admire.
See related article about the Partnership among The Food Channel, the Jelly Belly Candy Company, and The French Pastry School.
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