They say the quickest way to a kid’s heart is through his tummy. That’s true where gummy bears and ice cream are concerned, at least. Get your family curious about where their food comes from by taking a factory or warehouse tour. There is a lot of food and drink made in the Chicago area and some manufacturers will take you behind the scenes. Flip through our album to discover tours for fans of candy, coffee and beer (both root and the grownup varieties).
Jelly Belly Warehouse Tour
Hop on the Jelly Belly Train (yes, it's a thing) to tour the warehouse and learn through videos how candy corn, jellybeans and gummies are made. Shop the store to enjoy the sample bar, where visitors can taste each flavor as well as any favorite or new confection on the day’s menu. If you find yourself there at lunchtime, small bites are available at the Jelly Belly Snack Bar. Guided tours are scheduled 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and groups of visitors are taken around every 10-15 minutes.
10100 Jelly Belly Lane, Pleasant Prairie, WI (866-TOUR-JBC or jellybelly.com)
Show your kids what happens behind the scenes to create the lifeblood of exhausted parents everywhere by taking them on a tour of Intelligentsia Coffee. Visitors will learn every aspect of coffee making with live demonstrations of the roasting process and discussions of everything involved between the farmer growing the beans and the coffee being savored in the mug. Enjoy all the freshly brewed coffee you can drink while on the tour and leave with the shakes and a free 12 oz. bag of freshly roasted coffee. Tour admission is $30 for adults and free for children under the age of 13. Tour availability is limited and reservations are highly recommended.
1850 W. Fulton St., Chicago (312-521-7976 or intelligentsiacoffee.com)
Long Grove Confectionery
This local gem is a wholesale supplier of more than 300 gourmet confections sold throughout the country, their signature confection being the Milk Chocolate Pecan Myrtle. Tours of their facility are offered for groups of 10 or more, but sometimes you can join an existing tour if you’re short a few people. Kids will get a kick out of the 2,500-pound chocolate Statue of Liberty and 500-pound Santa sculptures that greet visitors. The tour starts with a video explaining how chocolate is made and moves on to the kitchen viewing area, were depending on the production schedule, you’ll see anything from caramel being cooked in copper pots to cream and butter filling churning in huge mixers. Watch as staff hand paints colored chocolate into the molds prior to filling, resulting in what looks like miniature pieces of art.
Tours cost $2 per person and are available Monday-Friday. Reservations are required and live production is not guaranteed. Stick around after the tour to shop for treats in their factory store.
333 Lexington Ave., Buffalo Grove (847-459-3100 or http://www.longgrove.com/factory-tours/)
Filbert's Root Beer
Filbert’s doesn’t offer a scripted tour of their facilities, but their friendly staff is always more than happy to show customers around their bottling facility. They’re most known for root beer, but they produce 25 soda flavors in total. Before you go in to buy your mixed case or keg of soda, call ahead to see if they’re bottling that day so you can see the operation in action.
3430 S. Ashland Ave., Chicago (773-847-1520 or filbertsrootbeer.com)
Two Brothers Brewery
Here’s a tour that the grownups will get excited about. Two Brothers was started in 1996 by — you guessed it — two brothers with a passion for microbrews. They open their doors for guests of any age for 45-minute tours, just check their online calendar for dates and times. Reservations are not required and guests are treated to the sights, smells and, for those 21 years and older, tastes of the brewery. Come hungry so you can enjoy the extensive menu at Tap House.
30W315 Calumet Ave., Warrenville (630-393-4800 or twobrothersbrewing.com
Not only does Albanese make gummies as pretty as they are delicious, they welcome visitors to take a peek into the manufacturing process for what have become known as the “World’s Best Gummies.” Tours are designed for all ages and consist of viewing the Gummi Factory through eight separate windows and watching videos explaining the creation of gummies and Gold Label chocolates. Free self-guided tours take about 5-15 minutes and are available any time during normal business hours (Monday-Saturday 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.); no reservations required. You’re rewarded at the end with samples of the freshest gummi and chocolate samples you’ll ever eat.
5441 E. Lincoln Highway, Merrillville, IN (855-272-3227 or albanesecandy.com)
The Plant is a 93,500-square-foot former pork processing facility that has been transformed into a collaborative community of small businesses focused on growing, producing and sourching a variety of food products. It is currently home to over a dozen small businesses, including indoor and outdoor farms. Take a self-guided tour Saturdays between noon-2 p.m., to learn more about circular economy principles, view their waste museum, hear from interns, and explore and explore a demonstration aquaponic system.
1400 W. 46th St., Back of the Yards (773-847-5523 or plantchicago.org)
— Maria Chambers