Top food factory tours in America

Published July 02, 2012

| The Daily Meal

Want to live out your Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory fantasies? Turns out you can! Inspired by the 1971 musical, The Daily Meal checked out all of the delicious ways to learn about food production. From jelly beans to potato chips, there are food factory tours and tastings to satisfy any craving--so beat the heat indoors at one of these fun food factory tours or events.

Factory tours offer a fresh, creative way to keep the family busy, especially on a tight budget, as several of the tours are completely free. No, you won't be able to run around and gnaw on two-foot gummy bears, sip from a chocolate river, or score an Everlasting Gobstopper. That said, many of the tours include munchies like chocolate, cheese, and potato chips. It may not be the healthiest activity, but it will certainly be a memorable one.

Aside from the tasty bites, the food factory tours and tastings share company history and fun facts about the products. Want to know how long it takes to make a single jelly bean? Are you curious about the exact contents of your teabag? Clueless about how cheese is made? Get the answers to these and other questions from the educational and interactive tours. Why not build a trip around one of these destinations?

Food factory tours make for great family vacations, so pack a few suitcases, fire up your GPS, and check out the Top Food Factory Tours in America.

Jelly Belly Factory: Fairfield, Calif.

Addicted to jelly beans? Then the Jelly Belly Factory tour is a dream come true. Located about an hour north of San Francisco, the Jelly Belly factory hosts 40-minute walking tours. Visitors get to see how the candy giant creates many of its over 150 different treats, and see how each bean is made. Fun fact: It takes over a week to make a single jelly bean!

The wheelchair-accessible tour is free and open every day. For more details, click here.

Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory: Hyannis, Mass.

Cape Cod Potato Chips first opened its factory doors to the public in 1985 and currently boasts over 250,000 visitors each year. Beginning as an 800-square-foot location in Hyannis, Mass., Cape Cod products are now sold across the nation and recently celebrated its 30th anniversary.

The free, self-guided tour is open Monday through Friday. For more information, click here.

Celestial Seasonings Factory Tour: Boulder, Colo.

Ever wondered what exactly is in your teabag? Now you can find out! Offering free 45-minute tours daily, the Celestial Seasonings tea plant shows visitors exactly how herbs and spices become the comforting cups of tea we have grown to love. Guests enjoy free samples of each tea made by the company, and also visit the gallery, which houses the original artwork from their tea boxes.

For more information, check here.

Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory Tour: Waterbury, VT

Phish Food, Cherry Garcia, Chunky Monkey – come visit the home of these iconic ice cream flavors at the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream factory tour. Started by childhood friends, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, this company exploded into an international success. Learn how a Penn State correspondence course on ice cream making turned into one of the most beloved ice cream companies in the world. The daily tours are 30 minutes long and include a sample of the flavor of the day. Yum!

To get the scoop, click here.

Utz Factory Tour: Hannover, Penn.

From potato chips to pretzels, Utz has it all. Visitors get to watch snack production from beginning to  end at the over 600,000-square-foot facility. The tour, guided by an audio program and TV monitors, allows visitors to move at their own pace. Be sure to check out the Outlet Store, located two blocks from the factory. Stocked daily, the shop houses nearly every product made by Utz.

Tours are available Monday to Thursday from 8am to 4pm. To learn more, click here.

Cabot Visitors Center: Cabot, VT

If you can’t live without cheese, you can’t miss the Cabot tour. For $2, visitors get to watch the cheese being made. Guests learn about Cabot’s origins, Vermont agriculture, and the cheese-making process. Samples of various cheeses—including Cabot’s World’s Best Cheddar and Best Flavored Cheddar are provided after the tour, which is open daily.

For more information, click here.

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