Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Chocolate Factory Revelations

Today was a whirlwind tour of factories (more tomorrow!). I started with the Harley Davidson plant (how eclectic am I? FLW one day - chrome and leather the next!). The plant wasn't operating, but I got to see some great displays, a cool video, the new models and spent a fortune in the gift shop. You will see that spending a fortune in gift shops is a trend for me. (I left quite a bit of cash at the Falling Water gift shop.)

From there I went to Snyder's where one side of the factory makes pretzels and the other side makes potato chips. It's WAY cooler to see them make potato chips. I didn't know all those pretzels are made by punching dough out of different size pretzel molds. I guess I thought a human was involved in some way and the pretzels were like snowflakes - no two alike. Yeah, whatever. I was in pretzel fantasy land.

They did have a great factory store where (you guessed it ) I invested heavily in the local economy. Although in the Snyder's factory shop for about $40 you can get a carload of pretzels. It was here that I saw the Tastykakes. I have long heard about how great the Tastykake is - usually brought up when I an expounding on the glories of the Little Debbie. (I love the Little Debbie Swiss cake roll. Little Debbie is right up there with FLW as far as I'm concerned. He owns architecture, she has snack cakes. I'm an equal opportunity cult member.) I have trouble with cakes and cookies - they are like Nutella and peanut butter to me. I cannot control myself, so I knew better than to buy boxes of regular Tastykakes. I bought the low fat 100 calorie Tastykakes.

Okay - they are awesome!!! They come in chocolate and carrot cake and I've already eaten way too many. Thank God I didn't get the regular ones. These are amazingly moist and taste like the full fat and calorie version - yum! Debbie who?

Oh, I'll be trying more of these Tastykakes before I head back down south! I just have to go to convenience stores where I can buy just one. Portion control is my only chance - these are much too dangerous to buy in quantity. Stay tuned!

A quick swing by Utz's factory store - no time for the tour - had to get to Wolfgang Chocolates for the 2:00 tour. The folks at Wolfgang are the best. I wanted to try one of everything and they were great - helping me figure out how to do it without buying a million dollars worth of chocolate. And don't freak out - I didn't try them all today! Even I can only consume so much.

Wolfgang is was started in the family's home back in 1921. You can see where they lived and how they expanded. The factory is in a couple of buildings in a neighborhood. Now get this - they buy the chocolate (made according to their recipe) from other supplies and the truck pulls up to the back of the factory pipes it into big storage vats! How cool is that? Again - I'm thinking people are somewhere making the stuff in the back, not trucking it in! So naive I am. (Do I think there are Oompa Loompas in there too?) They use about 1 million pounds of chocolate a year - they would need to use 3 million pounds to make manufacturing it themselves economically feasible. Oh - the milk chocolate comes in the truck. The dark chocolate comes in big ten pounds bars which they temper and use to coat and make their treats.

But I have to say the tour was disappointing. I didn't get to see them make a damn thing. I had to wear the paper shower cap and we got to walk through the factory, but nothing was being made. I thought that was a gyp. But hey - it was free and I got samples! : )

And I learned a new lesson - some things should not be covered in chocolate. Nuts - yes! Peanut butter - yes! Fruit - yes! (Don't get crazy - not the tomato.) But Wolfgang had something I was dying to try - chocolate covered Oyster crackers. You know - those little crackers made for soup. I thought this was an intriguing idea.

No - think chocolate covered saltine. It's a no-go. Too bland. Animal crackers - yes, graham crackers - yes, Oreos - yes, pretzels - yes. Oyster crackers - I say no. I think it's good to try new things, but, as hard as it is to believe, not everything is improved by coating it in chocolate. Perhaps we can equate this to fashion. Not everyone looks good in every "hot" trend. For example, skinny jeans. With the exception of Amy (I need to stay in rehab) Winehouse and Poison, no one looks good in skinny jeans. Find your own path - no one has all the answers. And one answer isn't right for every person. One style does not fit all and not everything is better with chocolate. Peanut butter, however .........

1 comment:

Heidi said...

If you'd visited Wege Pretzels, you definitely would have seen human beings twisting the dough by hand. They still do that, and Wege is in the same town with Snyder. Of course, with humans doing the twisting, they don't have near the same level of production. HOWEVER, the pretzels are the best in the world, especially when they come straight off of the factory floor and are hot -- better than a hot pretzel on a Philly street corner. No kidding! Go to the nearest Giant supermarket while you're up there and buy at least 12 packages of these things, because you will definitely eat them all. I wish I could have one right now! You need to try these!