Top Food Factory Tours in America

A delicious activity for the whole familyWant 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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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Credit: Wiki / MGA73bot2Hershey's Factory Tour: Hershey, Penn.
Chocolate lovers, hop on the free Hershey's Great American Chocolate Tour ride to learn how the company came to be and how Hershey's chocolate is made. The reward? Free samples, of course. Afterward, head over to the create-your-own-candy-bar-station where guests can use real factory equipment to make popular treats. What more could you possibly ask for?

Credit: Flickr / MemekillerHammond's Candies Factory Tour: Denver, Colo.
Want to learn the secret to making delicious hard candy? Visit Hammond's Candies, which is known its oversized candy canes, ribbon candy, and lollipops. On the Hammond's Candies tour, guests will learn candy history, Colorado history, and even science. The free tour lasts 30 minutes and is wheel-chair accessible.

For additional information, click here.

Credit: Wiki / NoeHillSweet's Candy Tour: Salt Lake City, UT
Have a giant sweet tooth? Head to the Sweet's factory and enjoy the 40-minute tour, which ends in the outlet store. Sweet's Candy has been making candy for over 120 years and produces everything from chocolates to cinnamon bears. Reservations are required, so call to make an appointment-just don't tell your dentist.

For more details, click here.

Credit: Flickr / marketing mommyHerr's: Nottingham, Penn.
Want to learn what makes a pretzel brown or how tortilla chips get their seasoning? Check out this educational tour that's great for the whole family. Visitors will learn about the history of the company and watch as factory workers create tasty Herr's products. After the one-hour tour, stop by the snack bar and grab lunch. The free tours need to be scheduled, so be sure to call ahead.

To find out more, click here.

Credit: Maureen SchulmanEli's Cheesecake World: Chicago, Ill.
Craving cheesecake? Make The Golden Girls proud and head over to Eli's, where a "Tasting and Traditions" presentation is offered daily. The free program includes company history, a decorating demonstration, and a tasting of cheesecakes. Bakery tours are on hiatus until further notice as Eli prepares for the future, so make sure to visit again when the tour is up and running.

To find out more, click here.

Credit: CabotCabot 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, go here.

Credit: Jelly Belly FactoryJelly 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.

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- Nina Fomufod, The Daily Meal