It’s mesmerizing to watch potato chips dancing along a conveyor belt or gobs of cookie dough pouring into a chunk feeder. But these food factory tours reveal more than the fascinating inner workings of some of New England’s most successful food and beverage brands. By the time you sample their distinctive products at the end of your tour, you’ll know there’s still human ingenuity and persistence—and an American dream come true—in every sip or bite. Here’s a look at five favorite New England food factory tours.
5 New England Food Factory Tours
Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour | Waterbury, VT
When the cowbell clangs, it’s time to “moo-ve on over” and meet your guide for a 30-minute tour that’s as permeated with cow puns as a pint of Chunky Monkey is loaded with fudge nuggets and walnuts. Open 362 days each year, the Ben & Jerry’s factory isn’t merely a place to witness the intricacies of ice cream production. By the time you reach the Flavo-Room, where the sample du jour might be a rare, not-sold-in-stores creation like Caramel Apple, you’ll appreciate each scoop’s deeply Vermont roots. Nearly 40 years after two junior-high buddies invested $5 in an ice-cream-making correspondence course, the global brand they launched from a Burlington gas station remains far-out, folksy, and socially committed. And every creamy morsel still begins with raw milk from Vermont co-op cows. 1281 Waterbury-Stowe Road. Waterbury, VT. benjerry.com/about-us/factory-tours
Cabot Creamery Tour | Cabot, VT
Chapter one of the cheesemaking process unfolds in the fields and farms along the rural roads you’ll drive to the Cabot Visitor Center. After all, it’s the farmers you’ll “meet” via the tour’s introductory video who supply the plant with one million pounds of milk every day. The 1,100 New England and New York farm families who own the Cabot co-op are justifiably proud of the “world’s best” awards their dairy products—from Vermont sharp cheddar to Greek yogurt—continually earn at international competitions. Through picture windows, you’ll observe enormous vats of curds being stirred and the “robo cow” packaging cultured products for market. What really excites visitors, though, is the invitation to taste practically every cheese Cabot makes. 2878 Main St. Cabot, VT.cabotcheese.coop/cabot-visitor-center-toursNote: As of January 2018, the Visitors Center in Cabot no longer offers tours, but remains open for cheese sampling and purchases. A video tour of the creamery is now available for visitors.
Anheuser-Busch Budweiser Brewery Tour | Merrimack, NH
Adolphus and Eberhard. The Budweiser Clydesdales. Beechwood aging. You’ll hear about the legendary founders, see the legendary horses, and touch the legendary wood chips on a tour of New England’s only Anheuser-Busch factory, where liquid refreshment is manufactured 24 hours a day, 365 days each year. When you hear the manic clinking of 1,200 bottles a minute being filled, you’re approaching the tasting room, where it’s not just America’s best-selling beer—Bud Light—being poured. Craft ales like Blue Point Honey Robber are also brewed here, and they’re among draft selections that are complimentary: just like the basic tour. Upgrade to a Day Fresh tour, and you’ll sip beer straight from the tank. Or buy Beermaster tour tickets for a true behind-the-scenes experience. 221 Daniel Webster Highway. Merrimack, NH. budweisertours.com/locations/merrimack-new-hampshire.html
Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory Tour | Hyannis, MA
What gives these Cape Cod-made chips their inimitable crunch? It’s the care that goes into every bag—including sample bags guests receive following free factory tours. First made in small batches in an 800-square-foot storefront more than 30 years ago, these all-natural munchables are now sold coast-to-coast in an enticing variety of flavors. On weekdays year-round, self-guided walkthroughs give salty snack fans a tantalizing view of the tender care farm-fresh potatoes receive, as they’re gently unloaded, washed, peeled, quality-inspected, sliced, kettle-cooked, drained, seasoned, and bagged. 100 Breed’s Hill Road. Hyannis, MA. capecodchips.com/about-us/factory-tour.html
Moonlight Meadery Tour | Londonderry, NH
Call it Yankee intuition: Michael Fairbrother turned his hobby into a business just as the world’s most ancient alcoholic beverage became buzz-worthy again. With more than 80 honey wines in his handcrafted line of meads—all with evocative names like Mojo, Smolder, and Smitten—tastings are a sensory adventure. First, tour the production facility, which is bursting at the seams since Fairbrother added hard ciders to his mix. You’ll learn about mead’s long history and see the company’s oldest artifact: the five-gallon corker in which Fairbrother fermented Moonlight’s debut batch. It sold out in one day in 2010. He quit his job as a software executive the next. And mead lovers as far away as Australia are now sipping the benefits. 23 Londonderry Road. Londonderry, NH. moonlightmeadery.com
Have you ever experienced one of these food factory tours? Let us know!
This post was first published in 2017 and has been updated.