Harry and David Holmes began mailing Royal Riviera pears around the country as mail-order gifts in the 1930s. Since then, their company has grown into a giant purveyor of edible gifts: the famous Harry and David, headquartered in Medford, Oregon.
The $5 it costs to tour the gift-packing factory is money well spent. The holiday season is a special time to take the tour, for you can witness the packing and wrapping of the Tower of Treats: five boxes, each containing a different product such as fruit, cookies, or cheese, are stacked in a tower and wrapped with a ribbon. From an overhead balcony, you can watch as each worker fills a box and passes it to the next person, who covers the box with a lid and adds another box on top. Once all five boxes are stacked, one member of a two-person team holds the ribbon, while the other wraps the ribbon around the tower and adds a bow and some baubles on top. Ribbons fly as each team assembles up to 1,500 towers a day.
Elsewhere, workers hand-pack exquisite baskets. Each packer receives a wooden box containing all of the components (e.g. fruit, preserves, nuts, candies), the basket itself, and a Styrofoam form resembling a cowboy hat. After the packer fills the basket, it is transported by conveyor belt to workers who cover it with cellophane and send it to the shrink-wrap machine.
In the bakery, workers prepare fruit galettes, cookies, and cheesecakes by hand. Sweet smells drift from the candy kitchen, where vats with rotating blades stir deep baths of liquid chocolate. Here you can watch workers pour the chocolate into molds. Then the candy goes through the enrober, the cooling chamber, and the cool room before being packed and frozen for later use in gift boxes.
Lots of other factory tours in Watch It Made are perfect for the holidays. Come to think of it, so is our book. You can order a copy right now on this website.
Posted By Karen Axelrod Nov 18, 2008