Friday, December 3, 2010

Field Trip Friday: Herr's Potato Chip Factory Tour

I have posted about our vacation in bits and pieces, so far. For those of you just joining in, my husband and I took our 3 kids on a 16 day road trip from Arkansas to New York City. We wanted this to be not only about family fun and together-time but also one super-duper field trip (made up of lots of little field trips).

Our first field trip took place in the small town of Nottingham, Pennsyvlania at the Herr's Snack Factory.

We were in the area, staying with my blogging friend, Annette. (That's her in the picture with her daughter and son and my kids and husband.) Some of you will recognize her from Live, Love, Learn and Net's Notes. Her daughter and my daughter were blog swap partners the summer before last, and we stayed in touch. I'll write more about that later.

Anyway, I really wanted to go on a factory tour because my boys will occasionally see them on a PBS program or Discovery Channel show, etc. and request it. There happened to be one just a few minutes from Annette's house, and she made us an appointment.

You are not allowed to take pictures inside the factory, which is always a bummer for a blogger. This is a picture from Herr's website.

The tour starts with a video of the history of Herr's and information on the Herr's family. I thought it was cute.

I think it's fun to get an inside peek into anything, especially food production. It was quite an operation. The factory is set up with glass windowed viewing areas at the top of each large factory room. They not only make potato chips but corn chips, popcorn, and pretzels. You get to see the whole process from the big balls of pretzel dough on the conveyor belt to the final baked product, including the application of the salt.

Here are a couple of fun facts/points of interest to me:

The chip bags actually come on a long roll, and a computerized machine cuts them off at the appropriate length and seals up the bag.

Herr's is committed to reusing and recycling. We saw the warehouse where the boxes of chips are kept before they are shipped out. The lady said the boxes are used 7 or 8 times (until they fall apart) before they are recycled. They also use seemingly every bit of their "leftovers." We saw a pipe with the starchy water draining out. This starch is collected to make magazine pages. The potato peels are composted as fertilizer. And I guess they even sweep up the chip debris from the factory floor to feed to the company cows. (Not sure how I feel about that one, but I suppose chips are as healthy for cows as they are for us.)

I'm sure the kids' faaaavorite part was toward the end when she brought out a fresh, WARM bowl of potato chips for everyone to eat. (This finally shushed my 3 year old who whined, "I'm hungry" into my ear the entire tour, the only downside of the morning. This is her new, infuriatingly impatient thing that she does.) Warm potato chips are good! Everyone also got a bag of potato chips as a parting gift. There is a gift shop in the lobby for any other Herr's paraphernalia you need.

The tours are free, and I highly recommend them! I think it all looks pretty grand to a child's young eyes, and it was entertaining to the adults, as well.

Linking up to Field Trip Friday at Traveling with the Praters.
Consider sharing a field trip you've recently went on by linking up, as well.


~Amy said...

Would you believe you were about 2 miles away from our old house? We lived in Nottingham for 5 years. The Herr's family is amazing. They're Christian and show it every year by displaying the Nativity in front of the factory as well as a beautiful, free display. On top of that, they donated enough snacks for over 300 bagged lunches when our church hosted the rotating homeless shelter (and Turkey Hill donated drinks) and finally, they also send snacks to troops overseas when asked. Truly, the Herr's are special and their factory shows it!

Annette W. said...

I remembered two other fun tidbits, but you got all the highlights that I remembered, plus some.

Green on potatoes is not's just where the potato was touched by sunlight instead of being underground.

The other thing, at least for Herr's is that they try to put big chips in BIG bags and little chips into the little bags. So if you like big chips...don't buy little bags!

Debra said...

This looks like great fun for the kids - the potato chip factory!
And it appears that your kids are learning all the time in a fun-filled family.

Tonya @ Live the Adventure said...

Thanks for linking up to Field Trip Friday! :)

We've eaten Herr chips, but never toured the factory. We have toured another potato chip factory though when the kids were younger and we all loved it. Sadly the plant we toured in Ohio no longer offers tours. My kids still talk about eating those warm chips fresh off the conveyor belt. Mmm...mmm...good. :)