Ever wonder how ice cream is made or what goes into chocolate candy? Factory tours offer answers to these questions and more. They’re also an educational and often inexpensive way to get out and spend time as a family. Below are a few places you can go to see your favorite sugary snack made from start to finish. Just remember to take it easy on the free samples.
Great American Popcorn Co., 205 S. Main St., Galena, offers free tours during regular store hours 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Reservations are only recommended for groups larger than 10. Otherwise, just stop in and watch caramel corn, cheese corn, dipped chocolates and many other items being made before your eyes. Sampling is encouraged and parents and kids can try any item they wish. Call (877) 777-KORN (5676) or visit www.greatpopcorn.com for more information.
Long Grove Confectionery Co., 333 Lexington Drive, Buffalo Grove, conducts tours by reservation 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday-Thursday. For $2 per person, you can watch chocolate being hand-painted, molded and packaged from the factory’s several viewing windows. Each tour ends in the factory store with a take-home bag of chocolate. The Web site, www.longgrove.com, offers suggestions of other places to go while you’re in the area. Call (847) 459-3100 to make a reservation.
Oberweis Dairy, 951 Ice Cream Drive, North Aurora, features a 45-minute tour at 10 a.m. Monday and Wednesday. Kids 8 and up can see Oberweis’s many dairy products being made from several viewing windows after watching a video explaining the process in detail. The company president leads every tour and questions are encouraged. Reservations are required and must be for groups of 10-30 people. Each tour ends in the store with a free single serve cup of vanilla ice cream. Call (630) 801-6100 or visit www.oberweisdairy.com for more information.
Eli’s Cheesecake World, 6701 W. Forest Preserve Drive, Chicago, offers several tour packages for different group sizes and budgets. Tours fall into two categories—groups over and under 10 members—and include activities such as taste testing and cheesecake decorating. Prices range from $2-$38 per person and all include a slice of cheesecake. Reservations are required for most tours and run Monday-Thursday. Kids must be at least 5 years old and everyone must wear rubber-soled, low-heeled, closed-toe shoes (which is good advice for most factory tours). Call (773) 736-3417 to make a reservation or visit www.elicheesecake.com for more information.