The Herr’s Snack Factory in Nottingham, Pennsylvania is a great place to visit. Not only do you get a free tour but there is a great store, snack shop and movie.
The tour is a free tour of a REAL factory. You start off with a movie that shows the history of the Herr’s Snack Foods. You find out that it was and is a family business that has had hardships over the years but still managed to grown quite big. You also meet Chipper the Herr’s mascot. It is about a 15 minute film.
Then you get to go on the tour. You see the real machines and people making real snack foods right before your eyes. We saw the pretzel room, the tortilla chip room and the popcorn and cheese puff room. You can see all of those things made right before your eyes. For example, in the pretzel room, you see the huge mixing bowls with the pretzel dough which is then broken into 10 pound balls of dough and pressed through a die cast to make the pretzel shape. The tour guide explains how it is baked twice to achieve the nice brown color and the crisp inside.
In the popcorn room, you smell the popcorn and can see the mounds of fresh popcorn being popped. Some have flavorings added to them right on the spot. In some areas, you can see the bagging lines where the snack foods are put into bags and sealed up.
The best part of the actual tour is the potato chip line! You can see the production from potatoes through to chips and then your tour guide dons a paper cap and walks right onto the production floor to grab some freshly produced chips. Those on the tour get to taste those hot chips right off the line. If you have never tasted fresh (and I mean REALLY fresh) potato chips, then you are really missing out. These are fantastic!
All along the tour, there are fun facts that the tour guide will ask. I learned a lot about how my favorite snack foods were made! I learned that the small potato chips go into the smaller snack sized bags and the bigger chips go into the bigger bags! Since the chips are sold by weight, it makes sense to have more smaller chips in your smaller bag than just 2 or 3 large chips!
After the tour is over, everyone is offered a snack sized sample bag of whatever may be new to the factory at that time. They try to offer samples of their newer products so people can try new things. And, then it’s off to the Visitor Center Store. They have all the snack foods that they produce for sale in the store. But, best of all, they have “Oops” snacks that are usually about half the price of the regular bags. They may have defects like too many or too few chips in the bag or other minor problems that doesn’t allow them to be sold at retail stores but I have bought lots of these “Oops” bags and have never found anything to be wrong with the taste! They guarantee that there is nothing harmful in any of these bags!
There are also a lot of books and novelty items in the store. Many of the items feature Chipper, the Herr’s mascot on them. There are t-shirts and baseball caps and other clothing items as well. It is a great place to get a souvenir of your tour or to get some chips or other snacks to take home with you!
The Visitor Center also features Chipper Café. The Café serves typical fast foods such as hot dogs and nuggets and pizza to name a few. It is a good place to have lunch either before or after your tour. It is not terribly expensive given the venue. The food is good and tasty! I have seen several birthday parties being hosted in the Chipper Café before too. I am sure that is fun for the kids!
Overall, I think that this is a worthwhile destination. You can learn about the making of your favorite snack foods, sample a few, and buy some to take home as well!