We all know how short kids’ attention spans can be; and the advent of complex video games and TV shows with intricate storylines have made it quite hard to impress children these days. For parents who’ve racked their brains out thinking of places where they can take their kids to have fun and even possibly learn something new, a trip to a factory may be just the remedy you’re looking for.
Some factories in the US are now drawing their curtains a bit and letting the public see the inns and outs of their operations so people like you and me will know what it’s like to be behind the scenes in the manufacturing process of some of the most common products we see in stores. Here are a couple of places you might like to check out for an interesting day out, plus some freebies as well.
Ice cream is a staple in a household with kids. If you and you tiny tots are interested in how each scoop makes its way to your cup, we suggest a trip to the Ben & Jerry’s headquarters located in Waterbury, Vermont. This is one experience that not children but also parents will definitely enjoy. Visitors to the headquarters can sign up for a tour of the factory which usually lasts about 30 miutes, and watch from an elevated platform the transformation occurring on the factory floor. Guides will keep visitors company at all times and be on hand to explain the manufacturing process from the time that milk and sugar are combined all the way to the end when each pint contains the frozen treat that we all call ice cream. A history of this famous brand is also shown on the documentary aired during the tour.
Here, you will learn all about the founders of Ben & Jerry’s namely Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield and how they became close buddies during the 7th grade. At the end of the tour get ready to treat your tastebuds to some samples fresh off the line. If you’re ever wondering you can’t find that one flavor you used to have all the time several years ago, check out the Flavor Graveyard and see if it’s among the unfortunate flavors that were discontinued.
After snacking on jelly beans during movies, on the bus, while waiting in line, and while doing homework, don’t you think it’s time your kids found out how these sweet little treats are made? Parents can treat their candy fanatic kids to the Jelly Belly factory located at Fairfield, California and for the first time ever, join them as they get yet another sugar high. A tour of the factory usually lasts about 45 minutes.
Visitors are treated to an amazing bird’s eye view of the manufacturing process, including the workers down at the floor, and jelly beans in almost color you can imagine. You can watch as each bean makes its way down the line, with sugar added at every stop. If you’re wondering how these tasty beans leave such a strong flavor in your mouth, a thorough explanation of the company’s added flavors is given. It might even surprise you to know that some of these flavors are actually real. At the end of the tour, visitors are handed a 2 ounce bag of beans absolutely free; that is, before you make a stop at the store located inside the factory where it’s almost impossible not to reach out for a bag of assorted jelly beans that you can snack on during the ride back home.
A quick reminder to parents and kids alike, visit the factory during the weekdays because the compound is closed on weekends.
LOUISVILLE SLUGGER MUSEUM & FACTORY
For dads who are having a hard time convincing their sons to learn baseball, perhaps a trip to the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory located at Louisville Kentucky might help change their minds. A tour around the factory usually lasts about 25 minutes and presents visitors with an inside look on how baseball bats come to be before they’re in the hands of a professional player.
Even dads who aren’t too familiar with the manufacturing process can learn how a hunk of maple can is transformed into a bat that may eventually be responsible for a fantastic home run. If you want to learn about the evolution of baseball bats all the way from the 1800s up until these modern times, the museum is the perfect place to visit. You even get your own personal miniature bat after the tour as your souvenir.
For those who are interested in visiting the factory, plot your trip sometime during Monday through Saturday, as the factory is closed during Sundays and holidays. However, the factory is also closed on Saturdays during the months of December all the way through April.
AMERICAN WHISTLE CORPORATION
A metal whistle is such a common thing in America that people don’t usually take the time to wonder how on earth it’s made or how the ball is placed inside a tiny compartment that in turn makes one heck of a sound. If you’re ever in Columbus, Ohio, a trip to the American Whistle Corporation factory will teach you all about the production process of a metal whistle, and the background story of the sole metal whistle manufacturer in the entire United States.
A tour around the factory will take about 45 minutes. During that time, visitors will be able to see the unique machine that was built especially to fir the needs of AWC to be able to produce these whistles. For those who aren’t in the know, the history of whistles actually stretches a while back (make that more than a hundred years); more noteworthy fun facts are shared during the tour. Before you go home, you are given a shiny new whistle that you get to keep for yourself.
HERSHEY’S CHOCOLATE WORLD
Kids all over the world who are longing to reenact Charlie and the Chocolate factory can ask their moms and dads to take them to the Hershey’s Chocolate World located in Hershey, Pasadena and find out how the different types of Hershey’s chocolates are made. Visitors to the factory will be treated to a virtual tour as opposed to having access to the factory floor, but the experience is refined to be very realistic to the point that the aroma of chocolate even fills the room during a part of the tour. Here, you will also be able to learn how a cocoa bean undergoes numerous processes to be turned into a chocolate bar that you’ll eventually snack on or give to your date as a present.
KREMA NUT COMPANY
For children who’s main food groups include the all-American PB & J, now is the chance to find out the origins of this creamy, crunchy spread that can also serve as a snack in itself (although your doctor might not agree with us on that). Parents and kids can have a fun time touring the compound of the Krema Nut Company which can be found in Columbus, Ohio. The secret to the distinct taste of Krema peanut butter is that the peanuts are all roasted by hand; of course, this is done in small batches.
Despite adapting to changing times and modern technology, Krema Nut Company has remained loyal to their hand roasting tradition since the company was established in 1898. What’s great about this tour is that it’s free and that visitors are given the chance to sample different flavors of peanut butter. You can also visit the gourmet nut store to buy some nuts for yourself.
GIBSON GUITAR FACTORY
If you enjoy playing Guitar Hero with your kids, then you’ll definitely enjoy a trip to the Gibson Guitar Factory not only to see real live guitars but also to watch how one of the most popular musical instruments today are made. The factory is located in Memphis, Tennessee; and the tour around the compound lasts around 25 minutes or so.
After learning how a block of wood is shaped, painted and polished to become a beautiful guitar, we won’t be surprised if you’ll be yearning to hold a real one the next time you play your little game. You can also learn about how the technology has changed over the years in the industry of guitar-making. Unfortunately unlike other factories, you don’t get a free guitar on your way out.
Another yummy treat that’s a favorite by both kids and adults is the classic pizza pie. Nowadays, they come in different forms: microwaved pizza, burrito pizza, deep dish pizza, thin crust pizza, filled crust pizza; rumor has it there’s even a chocolate pizza somewhere out there. But a tour at the Palermo’s Pizza factory at the Villa Palermo facility located in Milwaukee, Wisonsin will have you craving for a slice of classic pan pizza.
The tour lasts about an hour wherein guests are treated to a history lesson of Palermo’s Pizza, the step by step process to making pizza, and some fun facts that you didn’t know about this famous snack. At the end of the tour, a fresh slice of pizza will be waiting for each and every one of the guests.
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