September 25, 2013

9/17/13 - South Bend Chocolate Factory Tour

When we finished with our tour of the northeast this summer, I asked George if he'd like to go to Elkhart, IN, RV Capital of the World, and where the Heartland factory where our Big Country was made.  He jumped at it, so I routed us through Ohio and Indiana.  Now we're residing at a hotel, and trying to find things to do while we're waiting for some service work to be done on the 5th wheel.  Someone suggested the South Bend Chocolate Factory tour.

The Basic Factory Tour is free, and it's fun.  Since it starts on the hour, we had about 20 minutes to wait so we wandered over to the Chocolate Museum.  They have a lot of chocolate memorabilia, including old chocolate boxes and signs.  

We were hanging around the lobby looking at the educational stuff about chocolate, waiting for our tour guide.  I knew chocolate is made from cacao beans.  I didn't know cacao beans came out of these huge pods, that look like some kind of exotic squash or melon.  The pods grow on the trunk of the cacao tree, which probably couldn't support them anywhere else.  Pretty weird looking, huh?

After a little discussion about the history of chocolate, we had to don covers for our hair.  George had to have a little hairnet for his mustache too.  I have pictures of me too--but there's no way I'm posting it here.  Ha!
Then we headed into the kitchen.  They were making chocolate-covered raisins (or was it cherries?) that day.  We got a sample of that--and a sample of chocolate turtles.  When I asked if we could hang out around the turtles for awhile, our guide just giggled.

Next we headed into the packaging and packing (packing and packaging?) section of the plant.  I'd never heard of South Bend Chocolates before, so I figured they were regional.  Turns our they make chocolate for other companies (like Costco) and slap their brands on the boxes.

Next stop was the I-have-no-idea-what-they-call-it-area where they have molded chocolates.  They have chocolate polar bears (why didn't they use white chocolate?), chocolate Studebakers (they were made in South Bend) and even chocolate dinosaur teeth!  (Apparently the company president digs dinosaurs.)  I thought they looked like knives, but George guessed dinosaurs right off.

 We ended up in the outlet store,which they call "Almost Perfect".  We bought some regular chocolate, and some pumpkin flavored chocolate covered malted milk balls too.  (I think there should probably be some hyphens in that mess, but I'm not even going to try!)  I would have bought a game but they were out of stock--and I don't even like Monopoly!

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