Utz factory tour offers glimpse of potato-chip heaven

NEIGHBORS

January 18, 1995|By PAT BRODUOWSKI

Is the potato chip your family's favorite snack food? A "must see" for lovers of potato chips is "The Utz Potato Chip Trip," a self-guided tour of Utz Quality Foods, up Route 30 in Hanover, Pa.

The business has grown from a few bags of potatoes fried by Bill and Sallie Utz in 1921 to today's 10,000 pounds of spuds per hour.

The factory on High Street permits visitors to see how potatoes become chips from an elevated gallery. The tour includes a tape-recorded explanation of the plant.

The observation gallery is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., although chips are not always in production Friday.

The 500,000-square-foot plant at 900 High St. is several blocks north of the main downtown intersection in Hanover.

The older Utz factory on Clearview, with its giant elevated neon sign, includes an outlet store for snacks and gifts.

Turn left at the older factory on Clearview, then left again on High Street a few blocks away.

For our tour, we learned that the tractor-trailer that had been grinding gears ahead of us on the highway to Hanover was loaded with the next batch of potato-chips-to-be.

The dirt-covered tubers were dumped onto conveyors that jostled them into a scrubbing tub. When the cleaned spuds emerged, they were quickly spun inside drums to peel the skin.

Workers examined each potato for blemishes, culling the spuds before they advanced to the slicing station.

It's a quick trip from slicer to fryer, where in 2 1/2 minutes, the slice becomes a chip. Because potatoes are 80 percent water, about 4 pounds of potatoes yield 1 pound of chips.

My kids were fascinated when the potato chips disappeared -- passing through a wall to emerge in the bagging area. There, complicated paper and forced air technology puts chips into an air-packed bag, then workers pack the bags one by one into boxes.

Next stop: the warehouse. Forklift drivers zoom between skyscrapers of boxed chips, stacking and arranging pallets for a mini-train ride to waiting tractor-trailers and destinations on the East Coast.

At the end of the tour, a free bag of chips in a small cafeteria are a hit with the younger kids.

If you're interested in visiting, call 1-800-367-7629.

*

Author and illustrator David Wisniewski will visit kindergarten through fifth-grade classes today at Hampstead Elementary School, 3737 Shiloh Road.

In "Author/Shadow Theatre," Mr. Wisniewski will discuss his books and explain how he uses cut paper as an illustration medium.

Information: 374-2850.

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The North Carroll High School Band is selling citrus fruit. Orders will be taken until Feb. 7. The fruit is being shipped to Hampstead from Palm Beach County, Fla.

Orders may be picked up at North Carroll Plaza on Route 30 between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Feb. 16-17.

Prices are:

* Temples -- $17 for a case and $9 for half a case.

* Grapefruit -- $14 for a case.

* Tangerines -- $14 for a case.

* White grapefruit -- $14 for a case.

To order, call 374-6553 or 239-3471 or 374-6105.

*

Carroll Promenaders will sponsor a square dance from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday at North Carroll High School, 3801 Hampstead-Mexico Road.

Cost is $6 per couple and $3 for singles.

Information: 374-6353 or 374-6158.

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