Apr 14 2009
While we enjoy history and museums and back roads on our travels, we also enjoy learning how things are made. We wanted to fit at least one factory tour into our trip, and using the book Watch It Made in the USA, we found a winner in Hanover, Pennsylvania.
Utz isn’t a commonplace snack food name in the Midwest. Our only previous experience was with pretzels bought at Sam’s Club, where I was impressed by the company’s careful labeling for allergens. In the East, however, Utz is, apparently, a household name.
Our tour of the Utz potato chip factory began in a side lot of the building. A sign advised us to leave our cameras behind before heading upstairs. (The tour area does not have an elevator, but persons with disabilities may be able to receive accommodations by contacting the company.)
The first stop was a video about the history of the family-owned company and how the chips are made. Then there’s a snack area, where samples are available following the tour, before heading to the actual self-guided tour area.
The tour is simple yet clever; by having a long hallway with windows on either side, visitors can see the potato chip production from the truckloads of potatoes all the way to the warehouse area containing the finished product. Following the hallway, you can watch the potatoes being peeled and sliced, seasoned and cooked, packaged and boxed, and you can stay at each station as long as you want. Special steps with rails along the way allow children to be able to see what’s going on, and signs explain what’s happening on the factory floor.
Following the tour, everyone gets a bag of Utz chips, as well as a coupon for the Utz Factory Store, located a few blocks away.
The Utz tour was just about perfect for our family. We could see the entire potato-chip-making process, without having to worry about the safety of the kids. We could go at our own pace and stay as long as we wanted. And best of all, it was free!