If you have ever watched "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory," you have probably dreamed of setting foot inside a candy factory one day. Well, there are many working candy factories today in the U.S. that offer free or low-cost tours. They might not include Willy Wonka’s chocolate rivers or edible vegetation, but these factory tours can be a lot of fun.
Candy factory tours offer an exciting look at how beloved sweets are made behind the scenes, and in addition to seeing the assembly methods, visitors often learn about candy making and the history of the specific candy and candy company.
Touring a candy factory can be a great family activity since it appeals to all ages and is affordable—almost all of the tours listed below are free. (If you are a large group, it is always a good idea to call ahead to schedule a tour that can accommodate you). Best of all, candy tours often end with free samples of the merchandise, fresh off the assembly line. So browse this listing of candy factory tours, see if there is one near you, and enjoy.
The main Jelly Belly factory is located, appropriately enough, at One Jelly Belly Lane in Fairfield, California. The company was founded by Gustav Goelitz in 1869. As you may have guessed, jelly beans, in more than 50 flavors (including pomegranate and chili-mango) rank as its primary product. The self-guided tour is free, and it takes about 45 minutes to cover the quarter-mile area that includes interactive exhibits, films depicting the intricacies of candy making, and examples of Jelly Belly art.
In Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, you can visit the Jelly Belly warehouse and distribution center. Learn how these jelly beans are made on a free, 30-minute train ride through the facility complete with whimsical decorations and jelly bean characters fun for children and all kids at heart.
Theo Chocolate is considered one of the first organic, fair-trade certified chocolate makers in North America. Around since 2006, the factory is located in a former brewery building and trolley car depot in the Fremont neighborhood of North Seattle, Washington. About 60,000 visitors tour the factory per year. The guided tour is about one hour long, includes chocolate samples, and costs $10 per person. Children under age 5 are not permitted on the tour.
Boehm's Candies has been around since 1942 when Austrian Olympian runner Julius Boehms opened his first candy shop in the Ravenna area of Seattle, Washington. He later designed, built, and relocated his shop to an authentic Swiss-style Alpine chalet in the Issaquah foothills, which reminded him of home. Tours of the Issaquah production facility and shop are available during the summer months only for $7 per person (under age 1, free). On a 40-minute tour, you can see how their famous truffles, caramels, and nut candies are made. Outside of the summer months, if you have a group of 10 or more, you can inquire about scheduling a tour.
Hammond’s Candy Company
Carl T. Hammond, Sr., founded Hammond's Candy Company in Denver, Colorado, in 1920. You can visit the factory and watch as treats like lollipops, candy canes, and other popular Hammond's treats are pulled, twisted, shaped, and packaged by hand. The 30-minute tour is free. No reservations are required, but you can call ahead. The tour is offered every 30 minutes on the hour and on the half. Children are welcome. Wheelchairs and strollers can access the facility.
Sweet’s Candy Company
The Sweet Candy Company first opened its doors in 1892 in Portland, Oregon. In the 1900s, the company moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, where it has been ever since. Sweet Candy Company remains family-owned and operated by the third, fourth, and fifth generations of the family. Their specialty is taffy, gummies, chocolate sticks, and the company produces 250 other candies. The tour is free, by appointment only, Monday through Friday. The guided tour includes fresh factory samples and educational and interactive stations.
Cerreta Candy Company
The Cerreta Candy Company is a family-owned business founded in 1968 by Jim Cerreta, Sr., in Glendale, Arizona. He had learned the art of candy production in his father-in-law’s factory in Canton, Ohio. He then passed the skill on to his children and grandchildren. Four generations later, the business is going strong. Their signature candy is French mint chocolates followed closely by chocolate caramels and creams. The free, 30-minute guided tour is offered Monday through Friday at 10 a.m. and at 1 p.m.
Since 1885, Cero's has been making sweet treats in Wichita, Kansas. It first was a confectionery offering pies and ice cream by founder and Greek immigrant "Candy Pete" Cero. Cero enlisted the help of his brother who came from Greece to help grow the business and develop a popular line of truffles, caramels, creams, and nut candies. The 45-minute tour is free but is by appointment only.
The Candy Factory
Visit The Candy Factory in Columbia, Missouri, and observe some of the traditional candy-making processes in use since they opened their doors in 1974. The Candy Factory creates chocolate assortments of truffles and, for free, you can take a sneak peek at the process through their viewing room.
Rebecca Ruth Chocolates
When you think Kentucky, there are likely two things that come to mind: the Kentucky Derby and bourbon whiskey. It stands without question that Rebecca Ruth Chocolates in Frankfort, Kentucky, has tipped a nod to both in its lines of chocolate samplers and liquor-filled chocolates. From its famous bourbon balls to its Triple Crown Assortment, the selections are something you can only find in Kentucky. To take a 20-minute tour, it costs $5. Children under 5 are free.
Walk the glass-enclosed, suspended "catwalk" and observe nine assembly lines producing 30,000 pounds of chocolates at the Anthony-Thomas factory in Columbus, Ohio. A tour guide explains each process step-by-step from the kitchens to the final packaging on a one-hour tour. View huge copper kettles where the gooey centers of some of the candies are created and take a look at the network of silver-wrapped pipes that carry liquid chocolate throughout the factory. The tour is $1 for ages 3 to 18, $2 for over 18. Under 3 is free. Admission fee can be applied to a candy purchase. No reservations required.
Sanders and Morley Candy Makers
Since 1875, Sanders fine chocolates has been woven into the fabric of Michigan culture. With chains throughout the Great Lakes region, it was the regional chocolate. With its own rich history since 1919, Morley Candy Makers bought Sanders in 2002. The Sanders and Morely Candy Makers chocolate factory tour in Clinton Township, Michigan, is great for all ages and it is free. Guided tours are available by appointment only.
Established in 1921, the Wolfgang Candy Company shows its guests a look inside the business of making assorted chocolates, chocolate-covered pretzels, and candy. Now, a co-manufacturer of other-brand candies, see how chocolate is made and learn about the history of the company. Just a little more than an hour away from Philadelphia in York, Pennsylvania, the candy company tours are free and run Monday through Thursday. Guests are required to make reservations.
Webb’s Candy Shop
Somebody at the helm was paying attention to marketing when developing the product lines at Webb's Candy in Davenport, Florida—each product is unique. From goat's milk fudge bars to citrus jelly candies made with real citrus juices, Webb's is the real deal. To learn more about them, take a free, self-guided tour