Touring food factories can be a hit or miss venture. Sometimes you get a really hands on tour that gets you up close and personal to the action which can be fun and tasty. Other times you’re stuck sitting in a room watching animated characters tell the company’s history circa 1987.
Four of our favorite factory tours for road foodies follow.
When planning your visit to tour the Tabasco factory be aware that there are three distinct attractions to check out. If you want to do everything, plan on a half day visit or longer.
The first part of the Tabasco Tour adventure began with the requisite factory tour. The tour is free and takes about 30 minutes. The tour guide takes you through several production areas, relating interesting facts and details about the operation and its history.
After going through the tour you finish up with a short video presentation that gives you history of the McIhenny Family and their five generations of Tabasco sauce making experience. The best part? They give you numerous mini-bottles of Tabasco at the end of the tour.
Following the factory tours head right over to the Tabasco Factory Store.
While touring the factory and wandering the store is cool, a favorite part of touring Avery Island is a visit to the Jungle Gardens, a 170-acre garden with semitropical foliage, abundant wildlife, and a centuries-old Buddha statue.
Cape Cod Potato Chips, Hyannia, Massachusetts
There’s something special about the crunch that comes with biting into a Cape Cod kettle cooked potato chop. With over 250,000 visitors annually, the Cape Cod factory tour is something RVers and other road foodies have taken advantage of since 1985. Potato chip fans from across the country take the factory tour and learn how Cape Cod Potato Chips transitioned from a home kitchen recipe to full-blown factory operation. Tour goers discover how potatoes shipped from farmers’ fields directly to the Spudnick, a device that places potatoes onto a conveyer belt for review, and also get a glimpse of the staff that hand stirs the chips while cooking.
Located at 100 Breed’s Hill Road in Hyannis, Cape Cod Potato Chips is open for free self-guided factory tours Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery, established in 1861, is the first commercial pretzel bakery in America. Now, all these years later, the bakery is still operated by the Sturgis family using the same old-fashioned recipe and methods originally established by Julius Sturgis.
Visitors can tour the original 19th century pretzel bakery, get a hands-on lesson in pretzel twisting, see old-fashioned soft pretzels being made by hand, see the original ovens built by Julius Sturgis in 1861, and learn the history of pretzel making in America.
You can also shop for delicious treats and souvenirs in their bakery store. Everyone receives a complimentary sample of their “Little Ones” hard pretzels at the end of each tour.
Tours are offered every day, beginning half an hour after the store opens. The last tour of the day is usually a half-hour before closing time. The tour runs around 20 minutes in length.
Nestled below the triangle of Houston, Austin, and San Antonio is the old Czech-German town of Shiner, home to a beer by the same name crafted at the 107-year-old Spoetzl Brewery.
Tour the modern brew house with its gleaming copper kettles to the bottling room, where seemingly infinite lines of brown bottles are filled, capped, pasteurized, labeled, and boxed. Tours are offered every weekday. Number of tours and times vary seasonally.
Included in the price of admission (free!) is a visit to the hospitality room and a firsthand sampling of the final product, from flagstaff Shiner Bock to Kosmos, Wicked Ram to Light Blonde, and several seasonals. There you can pay homage to the state’s German and Czech heritage with a fresh-poured cup of one of the six or seven beers brewed on-site. The first one comes with three wooden nickels that can each be redeemed for another free beer. Prosit!
I am not a glutton—I am an explorer of food.