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You’ve been missing out if you haven’t tried Sriracha yet. The chili-paste-meets-hot-sauce concoction is now used on anything and everything, and even Subway has commercials advertising the stuff slathered all over their five-dollar footlongs. Now those needing even more of a fix are welcome to do so, as the Willy Wonka of the Sriracha industry has opened up the factory for public tours.
Huy Fong Foods is the company behind the magic, and now free tours are available in Irwindale, California in and around their 650,000-square-foot factory.
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Heading to Florida anytime soon? If not, you may want to consider a trip since tours through NASA's massive Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) in Titusville are ending on February 11, 2014.
The reason for discontinuing the tours is simple: "As a working spaceflight facility, NASA is preparing the VAB for the new SLS launch systems for 2017."
Now that Space Shuttles have begun their retirement as static displays in several US cities, NASA is moving on to the next stage of space exploration with the Space Launch System (SLS). In order to develop and construct what will be space vehicles designed to lift 70-130 metric tons (and astronauts!) into orbit and, perhaps, even to Mars.
No trip to St. Croix is complete without getting up close and personal with one of its most famous exports - Rum. The Cruzan Rum Distillery has been making some of the most popular rum in the Caribbean for more than 300 years.
For just $4, visitors can take a tour of the factory and see exactly how the rum is made and distributed. When you arrive at the distillery it is easy to see why their motto is "Welcome to the Don't Hurry". A cool breeze seems to drift through the open-air gift shop/bar/seating area even on the warmest days and, considering the work being done, the estate was surprising calm and quiet. Of course, the sweet smell of molasses wafting through the air doesn't hurt either.
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After ice cream, chocolate, and cheese we’re pretty convinced that Vermont is the foodie tour capital of the world. However, that didn’t stop us from checking out one more place. This was especially the case because we needed something sudsy to wash down all the other snacks and samples. That’s why we loaded up our phone with directions to see the secrets and scenes at the Magic Hat Brewery in South Burlington. We waited until the afternoon to visit—like at a couple minutes past noon—because we wanted to appear somewhat responsible.
The Magic Hat Artifactory is made up of a crazy trippy gift shop, a psychedelic bar, and snazzy factory. In total it added up to one of the best breweries we’ve seen, and it was surprising to see such a place just a few minutes off the city’s commercial strip.
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Most people think that Vermont’s most famous export is maple syrup, but unfortunately those folks are totally wrong—at least if you ask us. While we're fans of maple syrup it just doesn’t satisfy our sweet tooth the same way that ice cream does, so that’s why we consider Ben & Jerry’s to be the most famous—and important—product to come out of the Green Mountain State. We already had plenty of cheese and chocolate on our little foodie tour of Vermont, so it was only natural to see what kind of new flavors were being cooked up at the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Waterbury.
We’re not sure of the numbers, but we’d bet you a pint of Cherry Garcia that the ice cream factory is one of the state’s largest—if not the largest—tourist attraction. There’s state highway signs pointing you in the correct direction, and once you pull into the parking lot it’s pretty darn clear that you’ve arrived at the mecca for ice cream lovers. The grounds and surrounding area is picturesque Vermont to a tee, and there’s even a chance to check out the landscape through snowshoe tours during the chillier months. Although we were slightly distracted by the view—and the babbling brook by the parking lot—we new we needed to head inside.
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For those looking for something a little more sobering than the typical wine trail, we’d like to suggest the cheese trail up in Vermont. The state is pretty well known for their dairy this and that, and you never have to drive too far before stumbling across plenty of fields, farms, and cows. Some of the smaller locations have some truly unique options for cheeseheads, but before getting down with some of the seriously stinky and sharp stuff it might be worth it to check out one of the more famous spots. That’s what we did when we swung through Cabot, VT to check out the Cabot Visitor’s Center.
On the way there you’ll think something like, "hey, this can’t possibly be the right way." Soon enough, however, we were stuck behind a tanker truck filled with farm fresh milk and you know where that's headed.
The Cabot Visitor’s Center offers a sneak peek behind the whole cheese making process, and the $2 we spent on the guided factory tour was well worth it. You even get a little plastic cow bracelet or Cabot button as a souvenir that doubles as your admission ticket. We’re suckers for that kind of stuff.
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Just outside the downtown center of Burlington, Vermont—as in you need to ride your bike or drive your car—sits a factory known to chocolate lovers far and wide. Of course we’d consider ourselves fans of these sort of sweet treats, so it was a natural fit for us to make a little bit of a pilgrimage to the home of Lake Champlain Chocolates.
The factory and visitor’s center is located along right along Pine Street in a somewhat bustling industrial looking area of Burlington. You can definitely trust your GPS to find it, but be on the lookout for the sign and the parking lot as it’s easy to miss. Once inside the scent of some of the world’s best chocolate—at least in our opinion—hits you as soon as you enter the door. At that point you can pretty much hand over your credit card, as you're definitely going to bring something home with you.
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From meat to ice cream and baseball bats
The Travel Channel is doing it again! That is, making a TV series out of a blog series we did, like years ago. Okay so maybe it's not totally inspired by us (or maybe it is?). This fall will welcome "Made in America, " a round-the-country tour of 39 factories still making good old, Made-in-the-USA products, something we've been documenting since early 2009.
According to our buddies over at Eater National, the show will be hosted by George Motz, he of burger connoisseur fame and author of two volumes on the meaty topic. His destinations? Oh just the "Jack Daniels factory in Tennessee and Krispy Kreme headquarters in North Carolina, but also places like the New Balance factory in Maine and the Louisville Slugger factory."
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When it comes to candy we just can’t get enough of the sweet stuff, so that’s why we’re off to check out another holiday factory tour. Even though the machinery is working overtime in preparation for Christmas, tours are still available at Sweet’s Candy Company in Salt Lake City.
The place has been cranking out the chewy and the crunchy for over 100 years, as things first got started all the way back in 1892. They might not be as well known as Hershey’s or Nestle, but they certainly have achieved their own candy pedigree.
To show off their skills, they welcome one and all on a free 40-minute tour of their factory. You do have to call first and let them know you’re coming, and tours are only available Mondays through Thursdays. They do ask that you leave the cameras at home, because they don’t want any wannabe Slugworths stealing their recipes of course!
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Growing up, we were satisfied with grabbing our candy canes and other holiday goodies from a place like CVS or Walgreens, but now that our palettes are a little more refined we’re eager to sink our teeth into more gourmet candies. So if you’re traveling through Denver this Christmas season you might want to take a detour to Hammond’s Candies where they’ve been cranking out the sweet and sticky goodies since 1920.
Even though they’re plenty busy adding stripes to candy canes this time of the year, they’ll be happy to show you around their factory. Tours are totally free and are offered every 30 minutes during the week, as well as on Saturday. Things close down on Sunday, as even candy makers don’t love their jobs that much. No reservations are required, so you can just pretty much show up and see how all the confections take their shape.
We’ve already let you know about where Teddy Bears come to life this holiday season, but now we’re moving onto something a little tastier. Sure it might not be filled with all chocolate and candy, but nothing says we’re kind of friends like getting someone a fruit basket. The local florist is always an option for an overpriced bundle of bruised apples and oranges, but no one does it as well as Harry and David.
We’re just kidding about being strictly H&D people; we appreciate all sorts of presents, so this holiday season we’re suggesting that you take a peak at where all those truffles, cookies, and Moose Munch get their start. Harry and David offers factory tours four times a day during the week, and even though they're cranking out the baskets at full speed, they’ll gladly show you around this month.
Umm, that's not us posing there. Just FYI
If you can’t afford a trip to the North Pole this year to go with Santa on a tour of his workshop, there’s another holiday factory tour worth checking out. Find out where Teddy Bears come to life, as the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory welcomes one and all to take a look through their workshops just outside of Burlington each and every day.
On the guided tour, you’ll visit the cutting station where about 20 different parts of fur are cut out to make all the bears, and then you can see where they start to put about 430,000 bears per year into commission in the sewing room. If you’ve ever been to one of those Build-a-Bear places you know the best part of the tour has got to be where the little bags of fur are stuffed. Even though the machines they use are from the 1940s, the workers are able to stuff the bears with fuzz and fluff at 100mph.