Monday, June 30, 2014

The UTZ Potato Chip Factory Tour

The closest thing we have to a tourist attraction in our sleeply little town is the Chip Trip or UTZ Factory Tour as it is most commonly refered to. If you're not familiar with UTZ chips, then you aren't from this region of the country. They are some tasty snacks only distributed to Pennsylvania and the neighboring states. They are a common missed item of home sick people who have moved out of the area. My personal favorite is their crab chip, covered in Chesapeake Bay seasoning. My brother, who moved west is a big fan of their BBQ flavor and always makes it a point to pick up a couple bags when visiting home. 

 It's somewhat of a tradition for the kids and I to hit up the tour near the beginning of summer. Sometimes the tour can be packed with a bus full of people but most of the time you get the whole place to yourself.

On this late June day, we were just about the only people at the tour. The tour gallery is located at the UTZ High Street production plant, the largest of their four facilities in Hanover, Pa. You're visiting a real working factory, not a visitor center like some other tours so you need to be careful in the parking lot for trucks coming and going.

The tour gallery is made up of two areas:
The first area consists of displays and memorabilia relating to the UTZ company. 

Here is also a small, theatre that runs a 15 minute video about everything UTZ. On the day we visited, the movie was not running.

The main attraction in the first area is this giant display of everything UTZ makes. I'm not sure if this is what the company makes right now, or if it's all their products over the years. The display is very up-to-date so I'm guessing it represents what is currently/recently in production. 

The next part of the tour is the actual factory itself. Photography is not permitted of the factory floor. I tried not to snap a pic of any of the proprietory elements of the tour. The tour is self guided and one big long hallway with windows looking down on the actual working production lines making potato chips. Although the plant also makes pretzels and cheese curls, only the Chip manufacturing is visible from the tour.

Each stop on the tour is narrated by pushing a red button to activate a recording. The recordings walk you through the entire process from raw potato to bagged and boxed product.

Each of the stops along the tour also feature a little ramp for the little chip fans in your party to get a better view of the factory floor. 

The tour ends in the giant warehouse that stores all the chips waiting to be delivered the next day. From there you return to the main room where a free bag of fresh UTZ chips is on the house! There is seating and a soda machine also available to compliment your snack.

We've been to the factory several times, but this past trip we were able to see a huge shipment of potatoes being delivered in a pretty cool custom designed truck. The kids were particularly enthralled in this. 

Two blocks away from the High Street facility is the UTZ Factory Outlet Store filled with incredible deals on a wide variety of snack items as well as UTZ merchandise and plenty of free samples.

The tour is free and open Monday - Thursday, the store is open 7 days a week. 
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