Today we're touring through the Harry & David candy kitchens and packing facilities. I'm amongst the first group of visitors ever invited for such a behind the scenes look at their operations, and yes, I will speak for the others and say that we feel like we've been invited into a real-life version of Willy Wonka's factory. Come along with me, we have the golden ticket!
When the doors to the kitchens open and that first puff of wind hits you, it's almost like a visible onslaught of a buttery, sugary, crispy popcorn whirlwind of delight - the air so sweet and thick you can almost see it.
This is the Moose Munch room where it's all prepared and packaged. Moose Munch is a combination of caramel corn, cashews, almonds, and chocolate.
I've always wondered how Moose Munch is so perfectly spherical and learned that they use two varieties of popcorn - Butterfly and Mushroom - to achieve their desired mix. And I was really surprised to learn what high quality ingredients go into their products. Real butter, the highest quality chocolate, and so on.
The popcorn is popped and brought up on what I'm going to call a ferris wheel. (It's really not, but hey, since I have the golden ticket, I'm going to call it what I want).
The popcorn goes into that big vat to the left, where it patiently waits for the sugars and butter to reach the perfect caramelization - at which point it's magically drizzled over the popcorn and mixed to perfection. Charlie explains that the mixture is slowly cooled and stirred to prevent clumping.
The nuts and chocolate popcorn are mixed in last
and then it's all bagged and labeled by hand, and packed into boxes that await. I love that they employ workers even though it would be more cost effective to have it done by machine.
Next door is the tumbling room where they shine up the Bing Cherry Chocolates. Fun Fact: 40,000 pounds of chocolate arrive at a time in the kitchens.
I keep noticing the workers here smile a lot. In fact, I'm beginning to think that if they could just bottle up their whirlwind of delight - yes even just that smell, it would create world peace. Everyone. Would. Just. Be. So. Happy.
Down the hall, we're stopped in our tracks by a gazillion foot long cinnamon roll:
The dough is prepared and then flattened by hand to place in the roller:
It's rolled out and then rolled up on the rollers for the next station:
The next station takes the rolled up dough, unrolls it, covers it with butter, followed by spices and sugars, rolls it up again, slices it, and then places it in the pans:
A Cinnamon Swirl is born.
We continue on through cakes, baklava, truffles, and
cheesecake and I secretly wish for just one of the carts filled with springform pans. I LOVE cheesecake.
Tomorrow we'll make our way to the Royal Riviera orchards and the fruit packing facility.