Westward the course of jelly beans have wended their way so that today California is the proud home of this capital's Inaugural Jelly Bean.

Herman G. Rowland, red-haired near-grandfather ("not quite a grandfather yet") still in his 30s, is president of Herman Goelitz Inc., which made all the JBs, and he is a man fit to bust with pride.

"In Oakland we live quietly and I work at the plant, and go around making sales, and we're not used to dressing formally. Or to the media. Listen, the first time I saw those cameras on me, the old lump rose right up in the throat.

"A magazine wants me to pose in front of the Capitol dome. "I don't know. One magazine ran a picture of a guy lolling around in a whole bathtub full of our jelly beans and when I saw it I thought well, there goes the ball game.

"But you know what? Within a few weeks we couldn't meet the demand. So I guess I'm not much judge of publicity."

Wearing a business suit, or at least pants and a vast minus the jacket, and shirted in soft red (muted catsup is about the tone of red) Rowland breakfasted in his room at the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel, which by the way hands out free Jelly Bellies (Rowland's gourmet-type jelly beans that sell for about $4 a pound usually) to guests at the inaugural information and reception center in the lobby.

"We've provided 7,000 pounds of jelly beans for the inaugural," he went on, modestly not mentioning that Ronald Reagan once wrote his firm a note saying he really could "hardly . . . make a decision without passing around a jar of jelly beans."

Rowland's grandfather got into the candy business in North Chicago in 1898, making candy corn (which you always see at Halloween, and now, if you are blessed, in delicate pastel tints at Easter, too).

"Nothing was done by machine. You made the starch molds, poured in the liquid candy from a vessel -- all by hand. Now we have a $300,000 machine from Australia that makes all the centers, and a lot of other machinery."

But lest anyone mourn the passing of the handmade jelly beans, Rowland says most of the 36 flavors of Goelitz beans are made with pure, natural ingredients, such as pureed blueberries, pureed peanuts (peanut butter, and never mind the cost) and so forth. Failing that, he said, pure, natural extracts are used and only rarely is a synthetic flavoring resorted to.

His beans are quality beans, and he tries to keep a tone of condescension or contempt out of his voice when he speaks of plain ordinary grocery-store jelly beans which do not use blueberries puree, ground jalapeno peppers or any of the other somewhat odd ingredients Rowland uses.

He lives on a seven-acre plot, a sort of family compound with four houses, near Oakland, and raises Arabian show horses (his wife is the great horse person of the family) and is now beginning to breed a herd of llamas which he says are much better than donkeys as pack animals in rough terrain.

He also has a batch of Australian shepherd dogs, some cats, pheasants, peacocks, the last rather accidental.

"One of the pheasant eggs hatched out and really took off, very different from the others. Turned out it was a peacock. A friend stuck the egg in without saying anything. It was rather a surprise. Peacocks can fly up in a tree a few hours after they're born. Anyway, we now have plenty of peacocks, but they make so much noise we pen them up during the mating season."

Rowland says he does not think his firm's gift of 7,000 pound of jelly beans are tax deductible, though it would be nice if his accountant finds otherwise. Somebody told him Sen. Hatfield's wife sent Nancy Reagan a batch of jelly beans instead of flowers, and he also heard that Blair House, where the Reagans are staying before they move into the White House, has jelly beans in bowls and plates all over the place. Very gratifying.

Rowland and his wife will take in parties and balls, six events, before going back to California, where he has left the kids to keep an eye on the factory and all the animals.

"One thing," he said in parting, "If you eat our jelly beans or Jelly Bellies as we call them, you probably should eat them one by one, since some of the flavors are pretty definite and may not blend well if you just pop in a whole handful. But of course you can make combinations. Such as one tangerine bean, one green apple, one watermelon, one pineapple. Or two peanut butter beans and two grape beans -- you get the effect of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

"The jalapeno pepper jelly beans are big in Arizona. We have finally perfected their manufacture. At first we were just flying in the dark, and when I walked in the factory we were grinding up thousands of jalapeno peppers. What a royal stink."

To be beautiful, though (in jelly beans as in anything else) it's necessary to suffer.