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chips
Watch potato chips...or pickles...or other favorite foods being made in a fun factory tour.
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November 2005
Updated May 2007

Food Fun / Events & Travel

Food Factory Tours

You Love to Eat It~Now Watch It Being Made

 

What’s more fun than a food factory tour? Whether a day trip or part of a longer vacation, it’s pretty fascinating watching how milk ends up as cheese or how maple syrup gets made. It certainly gives one appreciation for all of the labor that goes into making the products that we take for granted when we pluck them off the shelf.

Here are some factory tours from pickles to pretzels, baked goods to brittles. All tours are free unless noted. Even if no reservations are required, call ahead to ensure that the factory is not closed for renovation, special event or other circumstance.

To submit a tour for inclusion on this list, click here and e-mail complete information (manufacturer name, address, URL, hours, details (description of tour, any reservation or cost information), and the contact person’s phone number.

California

Graber Olives
Ontario, CA

Graber Olive House is located in a pleasant residential area north of Ontario's business district just minutes from the Ontario International Airport. Olives have been produced by the Graber family since 1894. Free tours are available throughout the year, Mondays through Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Sundays 9:30 a.m. t0 6 p.m. With the the fall harvest there are added activities including the grading, curing, and canning of olives. 315 East 4th Street, Ontario, CA 91762. Telephone: 1.800.996.5483.

Sun Empire Foods
Kerman, CA 93630 (near Fresno)

Makers of honey roasted nuts and brittles, dipped nuts and clusters, dried fruits and trail mixes, this fourth-generation family farm shows how their hand-made delicacies are produced. Half hour tours are usually available weekdays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., January through September. You are strongly encouraged to phone at least a day in advance and tell when you expect to arrive and how many people will be in your party. Sun Empire Foods is located at 1220 South Madera Avenue, Kerman, CA, roughly 15 miles west of Fresno on Madera Ave. also known as Highway 145. Telephone: 1.800.252.4786.

Indiana

Ralph Sechler & Son
St. Joe, IN

Sechler’s has been making pickles for 85 years. Farmers from Indiana, Ohio and Michigan bring their freshly picked cucumbers straight from the fields to be immediately graded, i.e., sorted into seven sizes before they head to cypress tanks for curing. A group tour of the plant can be scheduled weekdays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. from April 1 through October 31. Call a week or more ahead for a reservation. Ralph Sechler & Son, Inc., 5686 SR 1, St. Joe, IN  46785. Telephone: 1.800.332.5461.

castor
Pickle castors were a popular way to serve small pickles and relish around 1900.

Minnesota

Spam Museum
Austin, MN

A 16,500 square-foot facility with interactive and educational games, fun exhibits and remarkable video presentations. There is no real factory here, but you get to put on hard hats, rubber gloves, hairnets and earplugs—everything you need to participate in the simulated SPAM production line. There’s the SPAM Ballet and an interactive quiz session with Al Franken, former Saturday Night Live cast member. The museum is open May 1 through Labor Day, Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 12 noon to 4 p.m. From Labor Day to April 30 the hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 12 noon to 4 p.m. The SPAM Museum is closed New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve Day and Christmas Day. Spam Museum 1937 SPAM Boulevard, Austin, MN 55912. Telephone: 1.800.588.7726. Austin is near the Minnesota-Iowa state line on Interstate 90, about 110 miles south of Minneapolis.

Nebraska

Weaver’s Potato Chips
Lincoln, NE

The Weaver's Potato Chip Company had its beginnings in 1932 on a stove in the kitchen of Phyllis and Ed Weaver, Sr. in Lincoln, Nebraska. By 1950, their first plant was processing 5,000 pounds of potatoes an hour. Visitors will tour the current plant and see the different product lines, from potato chips to corn tortillas, cheese puffs and cheese snaps—the entire process from the raw potato to the boxes going onto the trucks. Tours are conducted year-round. Hours vary so call ahead. Weaver's Potato Chip & Snack Food Company, 1600 Center Park Rd., Lincoln, NE 68512. Telephone: 1.402.423.6625.

New Hampshire

Stonyfield Farms
Londonderry, NH

The Yogurt Works Tour shows what happens after the tanker arrives with the milk from our farmers. During the tour, there are quizzes and prizes, and at the end, samples of yogurt. The Visitor's Center offers all-natural sandwiches, salads, and soups. Tours are Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on the hour. They are limited to twenty people, on a first-come, first-serves basis. Each tour lasts approximately 30 to 45 minutes and costs $1.50 per person (children 4 and under are free). Stonyfield Farms, 10 Burton Drive, Londonderry, NH 03053. Telephone: 1.800.776.2697.

Oregon

Pacific Oyster
Bay City, OR (outside Seattle)

The Pacific Seafood Group began in 1941 in Portland, Oregon and is a processor of Dungeness crab, cold water shrimp, salmon, and other popular seafood. The Bay City plant is located on the mouth of the majestic Columbia River, one of the most active fishing ports on the west coast. You can see oyster shuckers and packers in action Monday through Friday on a self-guided tour that takes you from planting to harvesting oysters.

dungeness crab
Dungeness crab.

You can picnic and bird watch or stroll along the jetty’s interpretive nature walk. Pacific Oyster, 5150 Oyster Drive, Bay City, OR. Telephone: 1.503.377.2323.

Franz Bakery
Portland, OR

Founded in 1906 by two young brothers, the bakery grew to be the largest in Portland, and today serves California, the northwest and Alaska for grocery stores, restaurants, food service and institutional customers. Tour groups of between ten and sixty people can be scheduled between Labor Day through June. Tours must be scheduled well in advance. Children must be age 7 and older. Telephone Becky at 1.503.232.2191 for information.

Pennsylvania

Herr’s Foods
Nottingham, PA

Herr’s makes a variety of potato chips, popcorn, corn chips and tortilla chips. Their Visitor Center offers a free, fun-filled morning or afternoon of educational tidbits, technological wizardry, and tasty little morsels. You’ll learn why one of the keys to a great chipping potato is its specific gravity. You’ll see their cheese curls actually enjoy a lot of hot air. You'll enjoy the complicated process and delicious outcome which makes tasty tortilla chips well-seasoned hombres. Before your tour is finished, you'll know why a pretzel without a good hydroxide bath would be a lot less crispy and not so brown.

Herr's potato chips
Just one of Herr’s chip
flavors.

Tour hours are Mondays through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Fridays 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. The center is closed on major holidays including New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Herr’s Foods, Route 272 & Herr Drive, Nottingham, PA. Telephone: 1-800-63-SNACK.

Intercourse Pretzel Factory
Intercourse, PA

In the land of the hard, crunchy pretzel, Intercourse Pretzel factory makes a soft pretzel dough, wrapped around the foods unique to the Lancaster County Pennsylvania Dutch culture: jellies with cream cheese, sweet smoked bologna and onion relish, sausage and sauerkraut. There are plain, cheese, herb or brown butter pretzels, and chocolate covered pretzels. On the 10-minute factory tour, you will learn what a pretzel really is, discover how it is made, and twist a piece of dough into your own pretzel. Intercourse Pretzel Factory, 3614 Old Philadelphia Pike, Intercourse, PA 17534. 1.717.768.3432.

Snyder’s of Hanover
Hanover, PA

Snyder's of Hanover bakes up to 28,000 pounds of pretzels per day (14 tons!), and more than 30 unique pretzel varieties (the company also produces potato chips, tortilla chips, sunflower chips and cheese twists). A 30 to 40 minute guided tour allows snack lovers to see the pretzels come out of the oven, be packaged and warehoused. The potato chip and tortilla chip operation is also part of the tour. The tour is open to the public year-round on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. A 24-hour advance reservation is required. Snyder’s Factory Store, 1350 York Street (Route 116 W from York, PA, Route 116 E from Gettysburg). Hanover, PA. 17331. 1.717.632.4477 x8592.

Utz Potato Chips
Hanover, PA

Utz Quality Foods was started in 1921 by Bill and Sallie Utz. Bill Utz, dissatisfied with the quality of potato chips being produced at the time, believed so strongly in the marketability of a wholesome quality chip that he quit his job and risked it all to begin producing the couple’s own brand of potato chips. In 1936, they installed one of the first automatic potato chip cookers, capable of producing 300 pounds per hour.  Today Utz is a large, regional snack food company that produces up to 14,000 pounds of award-winning chips per hour. A self-guided tour of Utz Snacks is available Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It allows you to view the entire 30-minute process that transforms a raw spud into a crunchy chip, concluding with a souvenir bag of chips. Utz Snacks, 900 High Street, Hanover, PA 17331. Telephone: 1.717.637.6644.

Texas

Jardine Foods
Buda, TX (near Austin)

Jardine’s is not your normal “factory”: the salsas, barbecue sauces and seasonings are made on their beautiful texas ranch, amid resident horses, mules and longhorn cattle. Through the windows of the ranch house, you can watch the entire production process: the blending of the ingredients into the large cooking pots, the filling of product jars, labeling and packing. Jardine is located in picturesque Buda (pronounced B-YOU-Duh), a charming little town filled with antique stores that’s 8 miles south of Austin and 50 miles north of San Antonio. Tours are available weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jardine Foods,1 Chisholm Trail, Buda, TX 78610. Telephone: 1.800.544.1880. Read our review of Jardine Salsa—a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week.

Vermont

Crowley Cheese
Healdville, VT

Come watch Crowley Cheese being made by hand just as it was over 100 years ago by Winfield Crowley. The landmark factory was built next to a small mountain brook in 1882 in the then traditional post and beam fashion. Little has changed in over 110 years: you will see a modern cheese factory of the 19th century, not the 21st. The entire production is completely “human”-powered. Only a few hundred pounds of cheese are made each day, and the process remains exactly as it was when the factory was established. There is no automatic equipment. Cheese most Mondays through Thursdays. Call ahead to be sure. The factory is open Monday though Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Gift Shop is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Crowley Cheese, Healdville Rd, Healdville, VT 05758. Telephone: 1.800.683.2606.

Dakin Farms
Burlington, VT

Come see how time-honored skills and century-old tradition combine with the most modern smokehouse facilities to produce ham, cheddar cheese, and pure Vermont maple syrup. Tour the maple syrup cannery, state-of-the-art smokehouse, and see how Dakin Farms foods are made—with plenty of free samples. Tours are available 7 days a week, year-round. Dakin Farms, 100 Dorset Street, South Burlington, VT 05403. Telephone: 1.800.99DAKIN.

Cold Hollow Cider Mill
Waterbury Center, VT

The Cold Hollow Cider Mill is one of the top producers of fresh apple cider in New England and are one of the few to press year-round. See cider that’s still made the old fashioned way, with a rack and cloth press built in the 1920’s. In the summer, you can watch real bees make honey in our honey corner (don't worry, they're behind glass). A Donut Center and fudge-making center make Cold Hollow Cider Mill a big area attraction, open year-round, 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (to 7 p.m. during the summer months).

Washington

Sea Bear Smokehouse
Anchorites, WA

In 1957, fisherman Tom Savvied and his wife Marie built a backyard smokehouse and began selling smoked wild salmon to local taverns. Today, Sea Bear ships wild salmon products to customers in all 50 states. You are invited to tour the Sea Bear smokehouse: it’s fun, delicious and free! You’ll watch the hand filleting and the traditional smoking of wild Pacific Salmon and will be served served samples. You’ll view different varieties and learn about the various smoking methods. In the retail store you can have your picture taken with a huge King Salmon. Store hours are Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The best time to tour is 9:15 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. But call 1.360.293.4661 ext. 3001 to arrange a tour at any time.  

Wisconsin

Carr Valley Cheese
La Valle, WI  

Carr Valley Cheese, more than 100 years old, remains one of Wisconsin’s traditional cheese plants, famous for its cheddar varieties made the old-fashioned way. While tourists, and locals alike, flock to stores in Sauk City, Mauston and La Valle for cheese curds and aged cheddar blocks, what sets the business apart are the specialty cheeses created and produced by Sid Cook, one of a small handful of certified Master Cheesemakers in the U.S. It’s a distinction awarded only to veteran Wisconsin craftsmen who complete a rigorous 15-year advanced training and education program.

Carr Valley
Sid Cook’s original, award-winning Aged
Marisa.

In the past three years alone, Carr Valley cheeses have won more than 60 top awards in U.S. and international competitions. Many of these have been won by Sid’s one-of-a-kind American Originals—artisan cheeses you won’t find made anywhere else in the world. Tours are held Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. The tour takes between 10 minutes and an hour depending on the factory activity. Carr Valley Cheese, S3797 County G, La Valle, WI 53941. Telephone: 1.800.462.7258.  We’ve been to Carr Valley, and l-o-v-e the cheeses!

Happy touring! If you know about other factory tours, click here to tell us about them.



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