Whether you have a sweet tooth or not, you can most likely agree that candy is just about the greatest thing ever invented. And if you’ve ever watched Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, you can probably relate to gazing in wonder and excitement at the chocolate rivers and edible decorations. While modern-day candy factories aren’t exactly like Roald Dahl’s whimsical creation, they’re still fun places to visit. So if you live in California and are in need of something sweet, check out these candy factories that offer tours to the public.
Move over, Ghirardelli: there’s a new chocolatier in town. TCHO is relatively new to the chocolate scene, but this small company has already been making big moves in the industry since getting its start just a few short years ago. Each free tour of the factory includes complimentary samples of chocolate, cocoa nibs and biscotti, although true chocoholics can purchase the best selling chocolate-covered mango pieces in the factory’s gift shop.
When: 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., seven days a week
Where: Pier 17, San Francisco, CA 94111
Jelly Belly Factory
At just a short drive from San Francisco, Fairfield is home to the Jelly Belly Factory, known as the “original gourmet jelly bean” maker, as the company was founded in 1869. A free, 40-minute walking tour of the factory will give jelly bean enthusiasts the chance to sample a selection of over 150 mouthwatering jelly bean flavors, and visitors will get a glimpse into the process by which Jelly Belly creates their signature treat, which takes more than a week.
When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week
Where: One Jelly Belly Lane, Fairfield, CA 94533
When: Founded in 1983 by Marinus van Dam, creator of the Jelly Belly, the Marich Confectionery is a classic candy factory with a family-run atmosphere. While the factory doesn’t offer regular tours, they are happy to accommodate any visitor wishing to tour the factory, so call in advance and make a reservation for free. In addition to chocolate-covered confections, like fruit, nuts and truffles, the factory also offers delicious caramel and toffee as well as jelly beans and licorice.
When: Call for availability
Where: 2101 Bert Drive, Hollister, CA 95023
As the oldest lollipop factory in the United States and the third largest manufacturer of this fun treat on a stick, Kendon Candies is family owned and has been churning out candy for over 50 years. This surprisingly small factory has only 35 employees, yet they produce around 15,000 lollipops of various shapes and sizes each day, including one giant lollipop that weighs a massive two pounds. Call to schedule a tour of this charming candy factory.
When: Call for availability
Where: 460 Perrymont Ave., San Jose, CA 95125
Photo credit: iStockphoto/tunart