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Made in PA
What’s made in Pennsylvania certainly need not stay in Pennsylvania, as anyone familiar with the provenance of household brands like Hershey’s and Snyder’s can attest. Yet Pennsylvania natives familiar with the wider selection of what’s made in Pennsylvania, from the state’s signature chocolates and snack foods to musical instruments, can also vouch for the fact that some of the less known gems from Pennsylvania are even more worthy of clandestine exporting and secretive hoarding. Learn about some of Pennsylvania’s best kept secrets this month: what they are, how they are made, and how they sound, feel—and even, taste.
Asher’s Chocolate Co. in Souderton is a family-owned business that has been making award-winning chocolates since it was started by Chester A. Asher in 1892, which just goes to show that perfection in the form of sugary confections cannot be improved upon. Not only does Asher’s feature trademark recipes for treats like assorted pralines, chocolate-smothered pretzels, and creamy fudge, but they have one of the largest selections of sugar free chocolates in the country—so you can spoil yourself without spoiling your fitness goals.
At C.F. Martin & Co. in Nazareth, visitors can witness the production of some of the best acoustic guitars in the world at a company that has been crafting them for almost 200 years. As part of the Martin factory one-hour tour, guitar aficionados can learn about the 300 steps involved in bringing a guitar from rough lumber to finely tuned instrument. You will also be given the opportunity to buy a guitar directly from the factory, after having witnessed the intricate stages of its creation. Once you have completed your free factory tour, The Martin Guitar Museum demonstrates the convergence of history, culture, and craft in its showcases of over 170 meticulously crafted guitars, and The Pickin’ Parlor allows guests to get first-hand experience playing Martin’s high-end or limited-edition guitars. A two-hour Behind the Scenes Tour is also available if scheduled in advance for $25 per person.
Founded in Tyrone, Gardners Candies now has ten retail locations across the state, providing more ways to get your hands on Gardners inimitable Original Peanut Butter Meltaway candies. While Gardners boxed chocolates have been described as “out of this world,” thankfully you won’t have to travel to those lengths to taste them. However, if you do decide to make the trip to Tyrone, you’ll be gratified by the full selection of specialty chocolates as well as treated to the history of Gardners in their flagship ice cream parlor, candy store, and candy museum. Please note that the museum is open from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m on Monday through Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays.
In York, avid bikers will find the largest Harley-Davidson manufacturing facility in the United States as well as view a cross-section of the manufacturing process for some of Harley-Davidson’s most popular models on their Steel Toe Tour. This intensive, two-hour tour will give motorcycle enthusiasts a behind-the-scenes look at the production of the Touring, Trike, and CVO models, as well as learn about Harley-Davidson history. A safety vest, safety glasses, and steel-toe foot protection will be provided for your safety as you observe assembly and manufacturing operations including the making of frames, fuel tanks, and fenders. The Steel Toe Tour costs $38 per person and runs from 9:15 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Monday through Friday. Advance reservations are recommended as tours sell out quickly. For those who prefer a shorter, less intensive tour of the factory, a one-hour Classic Factory Tour and a 30-minute Freedom Factory Tour are also available for $10 or for no cost, respectively.
At Herr’s in Nottingham, you can schedule your one-hour tour to learn all about the production of your favorite Herr’s snacks, whether your allegiance is to their beloved pretzels, potato chips, or cheese curls. The tour will deliver surprising glimpses of the inside workings of the factory and little-known information about the Herr’s process—including how potatoes are selected and tortilla chips are seasoned. At the end of the tour, you will be able to purchase Herr’s snacks and souvenirs to take home with you. The tour is $4 for each adult, and you are reminded to wear comfortable, flat shoes as the tour involves a fair amount of walking.
If you have yet to visit “The Sweetest Place on Earth” and the fountainhead of not only Pennsylvania’s but also perhaps America’s most famous chocolate bar, there’s no time sweeter than the present. Hershey is a city dedicated to the love of chocolate, where the presence and history of chocolate is as inescapable as its wafting aroma. Not only can you have your fill of all the Hershey’s products you can imagine, but you can also simultaneously satiate the depths of your curiosity about chocolate. At Hershey’s Chocolate World you can watch how the celebrated chocolate is created, while at The Hershey Story Museum you can make your own chocolate bar as part of the Create Your Own Candy Bar Attraction and taste an assortment of chocolates at the Hershey’s Chocolate Tasting Experience. Please note that while the tour is free, you will need to review pricing and availability for attractions at The Hershey Story Museum prior to your trip.
At Martin’s Potato Chips, located in Thomasville, a unique and uniquely popular potato chip was first crafted. Created in south central Pennsylvania—the “snack food capital of the world” according to some—it remains the bestselling chip in York county. The quality of the potatoes and frying oil, as well as a loyal customer base, have helped this chip maintain prominence in the world of snacks for the last 75 years. While factory tours are not currently available, a video tour of the inside workings of Martin’s is available on their website, as well as the means to stock up on all of their prized chips.
At Snyder’s of Hanover to 2 p.m. on Tuesday to Thursday year-round, but they must be scheduled by calling (1-800-233-7125 x 28592) at least 24 hours in advance.