The dog days of summer have arrived…swim team is over, friends are on vacation and the start of a new school year is looming in the not so distant future. We decided to break out of our normal summer routine for a day and head up to York County, Pennsylvania to learn how potato chips are made.
Utz Quality Foods has been producing potato chips in Hanover, Pennsylvania since the 1920s. Their free factory viewing tour operates Monday through Thursday from 8am to 4pm and some Fridays from 8am to 3pm (call on the Wednesday prior to confirm). The tour at Utz is self-guided and the whole experience took about an hour for 4 kids ages 5 to 8.
Truck lovers will be thrilled with this outing from the get go as there are many tractor trailers loading up with Utz supplies that you can see right from the factory tour parking lot. Once you enter the facility an audio track will give you a brief overview of the Utz Company as you walk up the stairs to the viewing area.
Upstairs is an optional 15 minute film about the company’s history and a lobby area with a display of Utz potato chip varieties that you can spend time viewing before you get to the tour.
From the moment you pull up at Utz you can smell the aroma of potato chips cooking. The large viewing gallery to see the production was well lit, spacious and had large windows with step stools for kids to get great views. At every step along the production line there was a button to press to listen to an audio description about what was happening. The equipment is huge and very close to the viewing windows.
It was fascinating to watch how quickly the potato chips went from whole potatoes to fried chips and the sheer volume of snacks being made was incredible! You could clearly see the steps of the potatoes being sliced, fried, salted, sorted, seasoned and packaged. The final windows on the tour are the storage room where you see a football field sized room stacked with potato chips of all varieties waiting to be shipped. Some days you can also view the tortilla chip production line but this was not available on the day of our visit.
Once you have finished the self-guided tour you return back the way that you came to get your free sample chips in the lobby. For more samples and “take home” supplies you can head 0.5 miles away to the Utz outlet store where you can purchase bags big and small of your favorite varieties. You can sample chip flavors before buying here by asking at the register.
It is easy to extend your trip to Hanover with other factory visits. Revonah Pretzel bakery and Snyders of Hanover pretzels are both located in town. Nearby in Abbottsville you can visit Martin’s Potato Chip Factory and further North near York itself you can see the famed Harley-Davidson motorcycles in production. For other family fun you can pick up sandwiches across the street from the Utz factory outlet at Schults Del and head to nearby Cordurus State Park.
A trip to the Utz Quality Foods facility is a fun, educational and delicious way to spend a day!