We had plans today of visiting one factory, but we actually wound up visiting two!
Chocolate was our theme of the week. We read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and watched the movie, made Daddy a chocolate zucchini birthday cake (with zucchini from our garden!), and read books about how chocolate is made.
Wilbur Chocolate Co. in Lititz, Pennsylvania is best known for the Wilbur Bud – a chocolate candy that is very similar to a Hershey Kiss. Wilbur Buds have been around since 1894. Milton Hershey started producing Hershey Kisses in 1907.
Anyway, we stepped out of our car in the parking lot across the street from the factory and could immediately smell chocolate in the air. It was heavenly! And definitely a much sweeter aroma than last week’s field trip!
The factory itself was a bit of a letdown for the kids. Because of FDA regulations, we couldn’t go into the actual factory portion of the building. We were able to see a “museum” with old chocolate making equipment and molds. There was also a movie about how chocolate was made, but the kids weren’t really interested in that. We were able to watch a few ladies dipping caramels from behind a glass partition. On our way back through the gift shop, we sampled Wilbur Buds and also bought some chocolate to bring home. Of the items we brought home - buds, milk chocolate coins, dark chocolate covered peanut butter ritz cracker sandwiches, and milk chocolate dipped homemade marshmallows – the marshmallows were the unanimous favorite.
As the kids and I were walking back across the street after leaving the chocolate factory, we spotted a town map. I saw a pretzel factory on the map not far from where we were, and while we were eating lunch, I looked the place up on my phone.
Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery was the first commercial pretzel bakery in the United States. Today they only make soft pretzels for tour goers in the original factory, and make all of the hard pretzels at another site.
The kids were excited that we would get to go on a “real” tour at this place.
We started by becoming certified pretzel twisters. Again, because of FDA regulations, we weren’t twisting real pretzel dough. It was just a flour/water dough. The kids still thought it was fun though.
Except for Evelyn. She was tired. And hot (there is no heat or A/C in the building). And cranky.
We learned how they used to bake pretzels in wood burning ovens. Trenton’s favorite part was before the pretzels were baked, when they got dipped in “poison” (straw water and lye). Our tour guide made sure that we all understood that this is NOT how pretzels are made nowadays.
After learning about the history of pretzel making, we left through the gift shop where I bought a soft pretzel for all of us to share. Everyone was a fan except Evelyn.
All three kids managed to fall asleep on the way home, so I’d say that it was a pretty successful field trip!