SWEET STATE: Name a food and California probably excels in it. Heck, California might have well invented the dish, or at least a popular variation on it. Hamburgers have a big place in our state's culinary past, and a lot of famous cocktails, too. And, yep, the Cobb salad. But there are a number of sweet stories, too, like LA-born See's Candies and Jelly Belly, which has strong Oakland ties and now is headquartered in Fairfield. The Jelly Belly Visitor's Center is also the site for the annual California Candy Festival, a gathering that not only spotlights a certain wee bean but all sorts of other confections, too. It's celebrating its second year this year, and is set to roll in sugar and be dipped in honey on Saturday, Sept. 22 and Sunday, Sept. 23.
EMPHASIS ON DESSERT: Rare is the foodie gathering that is unabashedly all about the last part of the meal or the in-between sugar snack, but this is certainly it. Lollipops from Kendon Candies, chocolate-covered macadamia nuts from Hawaiian Host, and Little Rich's licorices are three of the dessert-type offerings of the day. Of course, savory foodstuffs'll be for sale, and beer, too, if you need a little sustenance before you hit the caramel bars and taffy and truffles.
KING AND QUEEN: The special guests'll be known by pretty much every candy lover on the grounds: Paris Themman and Julie Dawn Cole will be in the candy house. You know these actors, of course; they starred as Mike Tee Vee and Veruca Salt in the original "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." Making them the perfect weekend royalty for one of the largest state's largest sweet parties.