Pennsylvania leads all other states in the production of potato chips, with York County - about two hours west of Philadelphia - claiming the title of "Snack Food Capital of the World." The county is home to two familiar snack food companies that sponsor free factory tours.
Visitors can see the making of the famous Utz potato chips at the company's 600,000-square-foot facility in Hanover. Utz [GF product list] has built a glass-enclosed observation gallery that looks down on the production process from beginning to end. Guests are guided step-by-step with the aid of a push-to-talk audio program and closed-circuit TV monitors. A wall display of Utz’s history enhances tourists' understanding of the company and its products. The Utz tour hours are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday. For Friday tour possibilities, call 1-800-367-7629 the Wednesday prior to the Friday you are interested in. There is no minimum age requirement for participants.
Snyder's of Hanover [GF product list], which will soon offer gluten-free pretzel sticks, has a free in-house tour of its manufacturing facility revealing how pretzels and potato chips are made. On the guided walking tour, visitors will see the raw material warehouse, finished goods warehouse (where robotics are at work), and the state-of-the-art packing room. The one-hour tour starts and ends at the Factory Store. Tours are conducted on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. year-round. Reservations are required at least 24 hours in advance. To schedule a tour, call 1-800-233-7125, extension 8592 on Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. All participants must be at least 5 years old and able to climb stairs.
In Nottingham in Chester County - a bit closer to home - guests on the free factory tour at Herr's [GF product list] can observe the manufacturing process for different products while learning little-known facts like how a pretzel gets its brown color, what makes a great chipping potato, and how tortilla chips get their seasoning. The one-hour tours run on Mondays through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The tours also are available on Fridays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., although the company can't guarantee production running on those days. Tours more than 24 hours in advance can be scheduled online; if within that time, reserve by calling 1-800-637-6225.
No photography is allowed on any of the walk-throughs, which are not offered on major holidays.