If it wasn’t for Sock’s family, I probably wouldn’t have wandered into little Hanover, PA far away from the beaten tourists’ paths of popular Pennsylvania history, dancing Hershey fountains, and battling football teams. I wasn’t here for any of the above… I was here for Utz potato chips!
Hanover’s claim to fame are snack goods. Your family-friendly, things to do list here includes pretzels, chips– you name it. Snuggled in this cute, little Northern town are several factories dedicated to feeding our salty cravings. Perhaps the most popular of the group is Snyder and their pretzels… but I wanted chips.
Located in one of Utz’s many buildings, this free factory tour began by almost making a human-flavored chip out o f us; After parking, we played Frogger during our attempt to walk from car to the factory entrance while trying to avoid Utz trucks getting out of the warehouse. Don’t worry, there are always workers directing traffic in that lot.
Our tour officially began on the 2nd floor where a fat 1980s television played some television special on the background and history of Utz. I’m not so sure why the following room is as big as it is (and empty) but more history and a few displays lined exactly one wall.
Now on to the fun part! (and the “no photography allowed” part) Windows dominated one side of a long hallway the length of a football field. From there we had a great view of the machinery below. From beginning of hallway to end, we witnessed the evolution of a potato into Utz chips.
Hundreds of potatoes fall into the giant steel machines where they get washed, peeled, and sliced in a matter of minutes. Eventually, the moist potato slices get heated, fried, and shudder down a chute before getting seasoned. From the proximity of the machines to the windows, it was very easy to see all the action.( Within a foot of the glass was a waterfall of the fried chips. Why do you tempt us like this?) During our visit there were at least four different lines of chips being created. The line closest to our windows produced potato chips. Towards the end, those same chips eventually got seasoned into four more varieties such as Carolina B-B-Q and Salt & Vinegar.
In this self-guided tour, you just push the buttons near the windows to hear a voice narrate the process in front of you. Unfortunately, this can create a bottle neck traffic jam if you arrive at a button and the family in front of you is still listening to the narration and you don’t want to arrive in the middle of it. Luckily, there’s enough moving things in front of you to keep your interest until then.
And what’s a food tour without a free sample? After doubling back that hallway, an Utz employee greeted us with a bag of their potato chips. Perhaps it’s from staring at chips for too long without eating, but that bag full became the best tasting chips I ever had.
Pyra-Danny realizes her last post took place in Las Vegas and now we’re back to Pennsylvania. Ehhh—Yeah I’ve barely been home so I’m still catching up on writing.