You don’t need to be a kid to enjoy the confectionery delights at these candy-making operations.
By Lowell & Kaye Christie, F47246
October is a time of falling leaves, crisp autumn weather, and the anticipation of ghosts and goblins appearing at the end of the month. What began as the Celtic festival of Samhain or the Christian holiday All Saints Day has become a secular costume festival we now call Halloween. Each year it’s estimated that nearly $5 billion is spent on the celebration. Since everyone knows the most effective way to get rid of those ghosts and goblins is to offer them candy, we’ve located multiple sources for all your sweet needs. Consider taking one of these candy factory tours around the United States.
1. Albanese Confectionery Group, Merrillville, Indiana. If Gummi Bears are among your favorite treats, you can see how they are made during guided and self-guided tours. The process can be viewed through 10 separate windows into the Gummi Factory. And, of course, there are samples at the end. No tours are offered during the busy months of November, December, March, and April. (www.albaneseconfectionery.com)
2. Anthony-Thomas Candy Company, Columbus, Ohio. This one-hour candy-making tour lets you walk along a suspended, glass-enclosed catwalk where you can look down on eight production lines that produce 25,000 pounds of chocolates on each shift. Tours are available Tuesdays and Thursdays. (www.anthony-thomas.com)
3. Asher’s Chocolates, Souderton, Pennsylvania. Asher’s Chocolates has been producing candy since 1892, making it the oldest continuously family-owned candy manufacturer in the United States. It’s now run by the fourth generation. A visit includes a self-guided multimedia tour to watch chocolate treats being made, ending with free samples at an old-fashioned candy store. (www.ashers.com)
4. Cerreta Candy Company, Glendale, Arizona. This small candy factory is family-owned and -operated. Thirty-minute tours are offered at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. on weekdays. You can see the Caramel Kitchen, where molten caramel cools on refrigerated tables. Next is the Cream Center, where the soft centers are produced before being covered in chocolate. The Chilling Room has a flexible conveyor belt that carries the cooling candy round and round. If stretched out, the belt would be almost a mile long. (www.cerreta.com)
5. Ethel M Chocolate Factory, Henderson, Nevada. Located just a few miles from the Las Vegas Strip, this factory hosts more than 700,000 visitors a year, who watch chocolate candy being created from vast tanks of the sweet liquid. The tour ends at Ethel’s Lounge, where you can sample gourmet treats. And if you happen to eat too much, you can walk off the excess by touring the Botanical Cactus Garden, which contains upward of 300 species of desert plants. (www.ethelschocolate.com)
6. Hammond’s Candies, Denver, Colorado. Caramels and chocolates, lollipops and candy canes fill the cases at this old-time candy store that opened for business in 1920. Hammond’s has tours six days a week, where you can watch their famous wavy ribbon candy being hand-pulled and crimped, or see vats of butter ready to be made into toffee. (www.hammondscandies.com)
7. Harry London Chocolates, North Canton, Ohio. Harry London learned to make candy from his father but earned his living as a steelworker. After producing tasty holiday gifts for friends, he was convinced to start his own candy-making business, which he did in 1922. The 45-minute guided tour lets you view the factory from high above the production floor. Reservations are required: call (800) 321-0444 ext. 119. (www.harrylondon.com)
8. Hershey’s Chocolate World, Hershey, Pennsylvania. Follow Chocolate World’s simulated factory tour, where you see a cocoa bean’s journey from a tropical jungle to becoming a candy delight. At the end of the tour, you’ll receive a free sample of a Hershey’s product. (www.hersheys.com/chocolateworld)
9. Jelly Belly Candy Factory, Fairfield, California. First created back in the 1800s, jelly beans are still one of the most popular sweets. President Ronald Reagan liked jelly beans so much that the Jelly Belly Candy Factory provided more than 3 tons of them for his presidential inauguration in 1981. Depending upon the type, it takes seven to 21 days to create a single Jelly Belly jelly bean. You can see the process during a 40-minute walking tour. Jelly Belly also has a 30-minute warehouse tram tour at its Wisconsin facility. (www.jellybelly.com)
10. Morley Candy Makers/Sanders Candy Factory, Clinton Township, Michigan. Each year the Morley Candy Makers produce more than 1 million pounds of their own blend of milk chocolate and dark chocolate (as well as using other blends). The self-guided tour allows you to look into the working area through a 100-foot-long observation walkway and ends with a free sample at the candy store. (www.sanderscandy.com)
11. Rebecca Ruth Candy Factory, Frankfort, Kentucky. In 1919 two substitute school teachers, Rebecca and Ruth, started a small candy company. In 1936 during Frankfort’s sesquicentennial celebration, someone said that Mrs. Booe’s (Ruth’s) candies and fine Kentucky Bourbon were the two best tastes in the world. Two years later, the Rebecca Ruth Candy Factory perfected a secret process for creating “Bourbon Balls.” Now the company offers more than 120 different kinds of candies. Tours: Monday through Saturday from April to November. (www.rebeccaruth.stores.yahoo.net)
12. Sweet Candy Company, Salt Lake City, Utah. A family-owned business that has been producing candy for more than 100 years, the Sweet Candy Company offers tours that cover approximately a quarter mile in 40 minutes. You’ll see saltwater taffy, orange sticks, cinnamon bears, jelly beans, and many other candies being made. Tours are Monday through Thursday. Reservations required. (www.sweetcandy.com)
13. Wolfgang Candy, York, Pennsylvania. In addition to the factory tour, Wolfgang Candy has a museum featuring illustrations of old-time American candy craftsmen. It includes display cases with wooden sugar molds, glass candy jars, and other antiques. Hourly tours start at 10:00 a.m. (www.wolfgangcandy.com)