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Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory might be fictional, but you can satisfy your sweet tooth with tours of real candy companies across the country. These seven tours are worth taking a road trip for. We can’t promise they’ll feature a chocolate river or an Oompa Loompa sing-along, but they’ll still be a sweet addition to any vacation itinerary!
Hershey’s Chocolate Tour, Pennsylvania
The obvious choice when you think about candy tours is, of course, a trip to Hershey, Pennsylvania. The city that bears the same name as the famous chocolate company offers more than just chocolate shops and free samples. Hershey also boasts an amusement park in addition to a free, 30-minute chocolate tour on a coaster car that travels through a rainforest of cacao beans, past dancing candy bars, and ends with a tasty treat. Afterward, visitors can satisfy their sweet tooth with a guided chocolate tasting experience, a create-your-own-candy-bar experience, or even a chocolate body wrap at the park’s spa. It’s a full-blown chocolate-filled day you don’t want to miss.
Jelly Belly Factory Tour, California
Gustav Goelitz founded Gustav Goelitz Candy in his hometown of Belleville, Illinois in 1869, but he probably never imagined that his humble factory would later become a jelly-bean empire with more than 50 flavors to choose from. Now popularly known as the Jelly Belly Candy Company and headquartered in Fairfield, California, the factory offers free, self-guided tours that walk you through both the company's history and the candy manufacturing process with plenty of interactive exhibits. Afterward, visitors can stop at the Chocolate Shoppe to watch chocolates being crafted by hand. In addition to jelly beans, you’ll find truffles, fudge, and the Harry Potter-inspired Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. Whether you prefer a strawberry cheesecake-flavored jelly bean or one with a booger flavor, you can find it here. Adults may also want to sign up for a factory chocolate and wine experience, which features six local wines to accompany decadent chocolates. Personal guided tours are available for a small fee.
Theo Factory Experience, Washington
People from the Pacific Northwest are probably familiar with this famous chocolate brand. Seattle-based confectionery company Theo Chocolate offers a factory experience tour that’s worth a visit for any cocoa lover. The company, founded in 2006, was one of the country’s first fair-trade, artisanal chocolate makers. Their tour details the bean-to-bar process, with additional information about related environmental and sustainability issues. Theo also has a variety of chocolate-making classes available for both adults and kids. After the tour, be sure to visit the Theo Flagship Store. Here, you’ll be able to buy bestsellers such as the Big Daddy marshmallow or the salted toffee dark chocolate bar. The store even sells special, limited-edition treats that you can’t find anywhere else.
Boehm’s Candies & Chocolates Tour, Washington
If you’re still craving more chocolate in Washington state after checking out the Theo tour, don’t miss sampling the goods at Boehm’s Candies & Chocolates. You’ll find the alpine chalet-inspired chocolate shop in Issaquah, which is only a short drive from Seattle. Olympic runner Julius Boehm founded the candy company in Seattle in 1942, but later relocated to Issaquah because it reminded him of his Austrian home. Free, self-guided tours are available during the summer and allow you to watch the chocolatiers as they dip truffles, mold chocolates, or make peanut brittle. Alternatively, you can pre-book a guided tour, which includes a stop at Boehm’s original chalet to see various historic memorabilia and a visit to the onsite wedding chapel. The shop stocks all the usual Boehm’s favorites, plus a few special extras, such as frozen bananas, lava cakes, and a four-pound Santa made entirely of milk chocolate! Sharing is optional.
PEZ Candy Visitor Center, Connecticut
Remember the wonderful collection of PEZ candy dispensers you had growing up? Indulge your nostalgia and stop by the company's factory in Orange, Connecticut, to see the world’s largest PEZ dispenser. While you can’t go into the factory itself, you can visit the visitor center, which features special viewing windows of the production line, as well as videos chronicling the history of PEZ, from its beginning as a small peppermint candy in Austria to its present-day collection of popular character dispensers. The visitor center has a vast collection of memorabilia on display, including a PEZ motorcycle, every PEZ dispenser ever made, and plenty of interactive displays.
Ethel M Chocolates Tour, Nevada
Ethel M Chocolates was founded in Henderson, Nevada, in 1981, and if you’re wondering what the "M" stands for, it’s Mars. As in, Forrest Mars Sr., inventor of the M&M and part of the world-famous Mars candy empire. Unable to stay retired for long, Mars founded Ethel M Chocolates, named for his late mother. The chocolates are preservative-free and made from sustainably sourced cocoa beans. The production plant in the desert outside of Las Vegas is also landfill-free and powered by an onsite solar garden. Take a free, self-guided tour to see the chocolatiers at work, or book a Tasting Room Experience with optional wine tasting. After the tour, browse the extensive cactus garden, which is the largest of its kind in Nevada, and grab a chocolatey bite at the Cactus Garden Café.
Spangler Candy Factory Tour, Ohio
Even if you don’t recognize the Spangler name right away, you’ll recognize the family’s candy creations. We owe thanks to the Spanglers for giving us Dum Dum lollipops, Smarties, Circus Peanuts, Sweethearts, Necco Wafers, and other memorable classics. The Spangler Company got its start in 1906 producing baking products and laundry starch in Bryan, Ohio, but one of the brothers suggested they make candy in 1908 — and the rest is history. By 1914, the Spanglers were producing ice cream, cough drops, peanut clusters, and more. By 1920, the company name had changed to the Spangler Candy Company. Spangler now makes 12 million Dum Dums every day! Climb aboard the Dum Dum Trolley for a tour through the warehouse and past the lollipop wrapping room. Video presentations also show what’s going on in the candy kitchen.