Ice cream is one of the traditional American antidotes to the oppressive heat of summer. As free samples are usually included, a tour of an ice-cream factory gives you both an interesting activity and a yummy way to beat the heat. You can read more about all of the following tours in the 4th edition of Watch It Made in the U.S.A.
Famous for its dairy country, Vermont is, naturally, also the home of a great ice-cream company. In Waterbury, Ben & Jerry's churns out 250,000 pints of ice cream every day. The company's signature sense of fun, reflected in such whimsical names as Cherry Garcia, Sorbet Volcano, and Chunky Monkey, is well represented in a tour of this flagship facility. Interactive displays and games festoon the rolling pastoral grounds. After a brief film about the company, the tour shows how ice cream is made, from the unflavored base mixture to the final product, which is frozen solid at an arctic –40° F. (That would feel good on a scorching July day.) You then proceed to the most important bit: a free sample of freshly made ice cream.
On State Route 13 in Utica, Ohio, Velvet Ice Cream considers itself "Ohio's ice cream capital." A tour shows you the vast maze of stainless-steel tubing that carries the cold mixture of cream, milk, and sugar to the processing machinery. Meanwhile, strawberries and other fruits are dumped into the base mixture at the various flavor vats. Conveyor belts consign the finished ice cream to the frigid reaches of the storage freezer.
Nashville, Tennessee, is often celebrated for its hot contributions to American music, but it has also made cold contributions to the world of ice cream. Since 1926, Purity Dairies has been jamming in Nashville, and its ice-cream plant now lets its fans see the factory through a giant window that gives a panoramic view.
For a glimpse of another old-school ice-cream operation, you can tour Blue Bell Creameries in Brenham, Texas. Although Blue Bell now employs modern technology for making ice cream, the company still does some things by hand: if the flavor of the day is banana split, for example, you will see workers peel and slice bananas in the kitchen. Your free sample in the quaint 1930s ice-cream parlor will help you stay cool in the mighty heat of the Texan summer.
Posted By Karen Axelrod Jul 19, 2007