It’s come to this. Apparently, a jelly bean can’t walk the streets in safety these days. Mr. Jelly Belly, a costumed mascot, was tackled by a laughing assailant near a Roseville Jelly Belly store May 20.
He wasn’t badly injured, but the $4,000 costume was ruined.
Inspired by the sad tale — and perhaps by the scent of a marketing opportunity — Prime Time Boxing offered Mr. Jelly Belly a boxing lesson for self-defense at the company’s Fairfield factory Wednesday.
"It’s just wrong," said Angelo Nuñez, retired professional boxer and owner of Prime Time, which has boxing gyms in North Sacramento and Roseville. "You can’t do things like that."
With dozens of 5- and 6-year-old kids watching, two Mr. Jelly Bellys (Bellies?) entered a makeshift ring at the company’s tour center.
They already had white gloves on, but hand wrap was added in anticipation of putting on boxing gloves.
Then they learned a few basics.
"Right foot behind, your left foot in front," Nuñez whispered to the Green Apple mascot. Green Apple and Very Cherry — human names were not revealed — learned to throw rights and jab with their lefts.
Needless to say, but we’ll say it anyway, this instruction probably would not have helped the Roseville Mr. Jelly Belly.
Alfred Vercruyssen — the man in the Roseville costume — was blindsided when he was hit. He had no time to fight back.
"Before I figured out what it was, I was down on the ground," he said. "I wasn’t ready for it."
Vercruyssen saw legs running away, but other motorists in the area saw an assailant jump from a car, tackle him and drive off.
"We have good citizens in Roseville," Vercruyssen said.
Based on witness information, Roseville police arrested Timothy Michael Warner, 23. Warner is still in Placer County jail because, in addition to being the suspect in the Jelly Belly flop, he had outstanding warrants.
Jaily baily, er, jail bail is $10,000.
After getting their pointers and donning bright yellow boxing gloves, Apple and Cherry did a little ersatz sparring, refereed by Herm Rowland Sr., Jelly Belly’s chairman of the board.
"You got a second career," Nuñez told him.
"I watched ‘Rocky,’ " Rowland responded.
In the ring, there was no rough stuff.
Given that the play combatants were ostensibly tasty jelly beans, a little ear biting — à la Mike Tyson — might have been tempting.
Only Mr. Jelly Belly doesn’t have ears. Or a nose. Just a big, goofy grin and 5-inch eyes.
As kids gathered around, Nuñez told them, "No one’s going to do this to Jelly Belly any more." The kids cheered.
Then children, including Alyssa Bell, 6, got the same quick boxing lesson.
Alyssa, doing her workout in red-sequined slippers, said she enjoyed boxing, though she had a tendency to jab with her right, instead of her left.
"That’s normal," said Prime Time’s Cary Williams–Nuñez. The gym works with kids as young as 6, and getting that left-right thing down can be tricky.