Herr's Snack Factory Wins Best Factory Tour!

TABASCO® Pepper Sauce Factory, Hammond's Candies Factory, Hershey's Chocolate World and Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory also winners

From potato chips to ice cream to hot sauce, companies from around the USA open up their facilities to allow consumers to get a behind-the-scenes look at where their favorite foods come from. We asked USA TODAY 10Best readers to help find the nation's best food factory tours, and after four weeks of voting, the results are in!

  • Boudin Bakery
    San Francisco

    See “history in the baking” at the Boudin’s Sourdough Bakery factory tour in San Francisco. In this museum and bakery tour, guests can watch the famous Boudin bread being made before their eyes, from above in a glass catwalk and through tall windows that peek into the factory. More than 12,000 loaves of bread come out of this bakery every day. As part of the tour, visitors can also explore interactive exhibits (like a baking video game), learn about history of the company as well as San Francisco (including a display of old baking tools) and sample different breads and dips in the tasting room.
    Photo courtesy of Boudin Bakery

  • Jelly Belly Visitor Center
    Fairfield, Calif.

    This Fairfield, Calif., factory tour smells sweet and will leave your pockets full of free jelly beans. Ever wondered how they make Jelly Bellies taste like buttered popcorn, coffee or root beer? Did you know it takes more than a week to make each jelly bean? Watch the bean-making behind the scenes in this free, 40-minute walking tour. During weekdays, a guide will show you how the factory works (and you will leave with an optional souvenir photo to buy). For an even more in-depth tour, sign up for the one-hour Jelly Belly University tour, a small-group tour into the heart of the factory. On weekends and holidays, the factory shuts down, but visitors can still tour the facility and watch educational videos.
    Photo courtesy of Jelly Belly

  • Greenwell Kona Coffee Farms
    Kealakekua, Hawaii

    If you like the smell of coffee brewing in the morning, you will love the free coffee tours at Greenwell Farms on Hawaii's Big Island. See coffee bean harvesting in the 30-minute, guided walking tours of these lush, green coffee fields. Learn about the different steps in bean production and the processing of Kona Coffee, explore a working Hawaii farm and wrap up the tour with free samples of Greenwell Farm products. Coffee samples are a given.
    Photo courtesy of Greenwell Farms

  • Cabot Visitor Center
    Cabot, Vt.

    For an expansive and totally cheesy factory tour, head to Vermont’s Cabot Creamery. Here, you can learn about the history of Cabot Creamery, dating back to 1919, Vermont agriculture and watch cheese being made. You know what that means; after the tour, visitors can sample different cheeses. The Visitors Center is the heart of the guided tour, and also the spot to pick up various types of cheese (including the “world’s best cheddar”), dips and other Cabot goodies and specials.
    Photo courtesy of Cabot Creamery

  • PEZ Visitor Center
    Orange, Conn.

    Walk through the world of Pez, at the Pez Visitors Center in Orange, Conn. This 4,000-square-foot center includes the Pez production room and factory store, as well as the world’s most comprehensive exhibit of all things Pezzy. The free, self-guided factory tour lets you see the working floor through windows, while videos teach about the process of making the candy, as well as the collectible dispensers. Visitors have the chance to win a free Pez dispenser, and also sign up for a more detailed candy-making demo, which culminates with a freshly made taste.
    Photo courtesy of PEZ Candy

  • Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory
    Boulder, Colo.

    See tea being made in the Celestial Seasonings factory tour in Boulder, Colo. This 45-minute tour is free and open to visitors 5 and older. The tour starts with an informative video and then takes you through the working factory itself, where you can see the ingredients blended, packaged and then put on the line for shipping. The tour ends with free samples of tea, although you can just stop in any time to try a sip, with or without the tour. In the Tea Shop, visitors can pick up teas, food and other goodies, and wrap up the experience in the cafe, which serves breakfast and lunch.
    Photo courtesy of Celestial Seasonings

  • Hershey's Chocolate World
    Hershey, Penn.

    It’s hard to beat a free tour that ends with chocolate in your mouth, and that’s exactly what you will find at the Hershey’s Factory in Hershey, Penn. This chocolate factory will bring visitors on a 30-minute tour to learn how cocoa beans from the rain forest are transformed into the chocolate bars that you then get to taste. The Hershey’s Factory also offers a “premium” Trolley Works tour, which takes visitors through a make-believe, old-fashioned chocolate city. Learn about Milton Hershey’s life on this 75-minute tour, which also includes chocolate snacks throughout.
    Photo courtesy of Hershey's Chocolate World

  • Hammond's Candies Factory
    Denver

    It’s trick-or-treat every day here. This free factory tour includes candy. Hammond’s Candies in Colorado starts with a short video clip and then tour of the candy shop, a real-world Willy Wonka factory, where you can watch workers making candy in massive kettles, coloring it, cutting it and packaging it. You’ll learn how candy canes get their stripes – and more. The 30-minute tour ends in a gift shop stocked with handmade candies, paraphernalia and more info on making candy.
    Photo courtesy of Hammond's Candies Factory

  • TABASCO® Pepper Sauce Factory
    Avery Island, La.

    This factory tour is like no other. Sure, you get to see the production line – where and how Tabasco Sauce is made, bottled and shipped around the world. In the pepper sauce factory, the spicy sauce is aged in white oak barrels, which visitors learn all about in the tour videos and from the guides. But the Tabasco Factory is located on a salt dome island, Avery Island, Louisiana. So the factory tour here includes a 170-acre jungle garden, marshes that are home to alligators and wildlife and a country store, where you can pick up goodies to take home.
    Photo courtesy of Tabasco

  • Herr's Snack Factory
    Nottingham, Penn.

    The one-hour factory tour at Herr Foods in Nottingham, Penn., begins with an informational video about the history of Herr’s, which sets the stage for a trip past the working manufacturing rooms. Visitors get so close to the action that your tour guide may actually grab potato chips right off the line and hand them to you – so fresh that they’re still warm. This is the real deal. After filling up your mind with facts about pretzel- and chip-making and visiting three different buildings, visitors head to the gift shop to pick up a souvenir. A free bag of chips is included in the experience.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

Savory flavors reigned supreme, with a close battle for the top spot between Herr's Snack Factory and TABASCO® Pepper Sauce Factory. In the end, the Pennsylvania potato chip giant came out on top.

The top 10 winners in the category Best Food Factory Tour are as follows:

  1. Herr's Snack Factory - Nottingham, Penn.
  2. TABASCO® Pepper Sauce Factory - Avery Island, La.
  3. Hammond's Candies Factory - Denver
  4. Hershey's Chocolate World - Hershey, Penn.
  5. Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory - Boulder, Colo.
  6. PEZ Visitor Center - Orange, Conn.
  7. Cabot Visitor Center - Cabot, Vt.
  8. Greenwell Kona Coffee Farms - Kealakekua, Hawaii
  9. Jelly Belly Visitor Center - Fairfield, Calif.
  10. Boudin Bakery - San Francisco

A panel of experts picked the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Eric Grossman, Megy Karydes, M. Linda Lee (10Best), Akila McConnell (The Road Forks), Larry Olmsted (Great American Bites) and Kim Sunee were chosen based on their extensive knowledge of food and travel.

Other nominated factory tours included Ben & Jerry's Factory, Bob’s Red Mill World Headquarters, Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory, Cold Hollow Cider Mill, Cooper's Mill, Goody's Chocolates, Snyder's of Hanover Bakery, Tillamook Cheese Factory, Utz Factory and World of Coca-Cola.

10Best and USA TODAY extend their congratulations to all the winners.

 

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Eric Grossman

Eric Grossman

Megy Karydes

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M. Linda Lee

M. Linda Lee

Akila McConnell

Akila McConnell

Larry Olmsted

Larry Olmsted

Kim Sunee

Kim Sunee