Regional Food Tours

Heroes, Local Heroes
on February 19, 2009

Give your taste buds a vacation with these great food tours across the United States. They range from the understated to the over-the-top, from the free to the extravagant, from the professional tours at Jelly Belly and Korbel to the behind-the-scenes walk-throughs at Sturgis Pretzels and Hammonds Candies. So get out there and get touring—because there’s a whole country of food waiting for your next vacation.

1. Sturgis Pretzel. See the hand-built ovens, watch the experts fold the pretzels, and then make your own with a rope of dough in this family business that cranks out miles of these salty snacks.
Where: 219 East Main St., Lititz, Pa. 17543
How much: Free
(717) 626-4354;

2. Hammond’s Candies. Set your sweet tooth abuzz as you watch old-fashioned, multi-colored, twisting candy ribbons scroll into cut candies and ropy lollipops.
Where: 5735 N. Washington St., Denver, Colo. 80216
How much: Free
(303) 333-5588, ext. 110;

3. The Eli’s Cheesecake Company. Savor the heavenly baking aroma as you watch bakers pull together and decorate some of the nation’s best cheesecakes—then have a slice to make the tour complete.
Where: 6701 W. Forest Preserve Dr., Chicago, Ill. 60634
How much: $3 (no children under 5 admitted on the tour)
(800) 354-2253;

4. Seabear Wild Salmon. Taste the decadent results after you see how wild salmon gets filleted, processed and cured in an old-world smokehouse that now ships to all 50 states.
Where: 605 30th St., Anchorites, Wash. 98221
How much: Free
(360) 293-4661, ext. 3001;

5. Herr’s Snack Factory Tours. For those who like to skip the sweets, head instead to this paradise of salty treats where you’ll learn everything there is to know about making potato chips (and tortilla chips and fried pork rinds and cheese curls).
Where: 20 Herrs Dr., Nottingham, Pa. 19362
How much: Free
(800) 637-6225;

6. Korbel Champagne Cellars. Go down into these champagne caves, located on the bank of the gorgeous Russian River; then come up into the bubbly in the romantic tasting room. Or take a tour of the rose gardens that include more than 250 varietals in a vast natural setting.
Where: 13250 River Rd., Guerneville, Calif. 95446.
How much: Free
(707) 824-7000;

7. Cowgirl Creamery. Get ready to get stinky with this tour of one of California’s greatest artisinal cheesemakers: every wheel, every boule, every bit is done by hand. Can’t get on the frequently sold-out tour? Drop by for tastings or pick up a picnic in the gourmet shop.
Where: 419 First St., Petaluma, Calif. 94952
Ho much: $30 (includes a take-home bag of Cowgirl cheeses)
(866) 433-7834;

8. Jelly Belly Factory Tours. They got Ronald Reagan happy, and they can do the same for you as you watch rainbows of liquid color get shaped into those little bits of candy bliss—plus, you get a free sampling of every flavor imaginable.
Where: 1 Jelly Belly Ln., Fairfield, Calif. 94533
How much: Free
(800) 522-3267;

9. The Dublin Dr. Pepper Plant and Old Doc’s Soda Shop. Come see the original, the plant that opened in 1891 just six weeks after the soft drink favorite was invented in Waco, Texas. Have a fountain drink in the old-time soda shop, see the plant in action, wander the museum, and taste the only Dr. Peppers made with the original recipe and pure cane sugar, not high fructose corn syrup.
Where: 105 East Elm, Dublin, Texas 76446
How much: Adults, $2.50; seniors and children, $2.00; under 6, free
(888) 398-1024;

10. Tabasco Pepper Sauce Factory Tour at the McIlhenney Company. Cross the bayous to have your senses zinged as the fiery peppers from the island’s fields get turned into one of America’s favorite condiments. Afterwards, cool down in the 250-acre jungle gardens and bird city.
Where: Avery Island, La.
How much: $1 toll to get on the island
(337) 365-8173;

By Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough, food writers in Colebrook, Conn.

Found in: Heroes, Local Heroes