Pennsylvania’s Snack Food Scene
Pennsylvania proudly holds top rankings in dairy, produce, and livestock production, as well as high employment concentrations in food manufacturing. As we celebrate National Potato Chip Day, there’s no better time to highlight one of the agribusiness sectors that we do best: snack foods.
Since the founding of Pennsylvania, agribusiness has been a central part of our identity. Pennsylvania’s rolling patchworks of farm fields, bountiful apple orchards, and sprawling hardwood forests have shaped our cultural and industrial heritage.
Pennsylvania is a hub for snack food and confectionaries, ranking second and first for number of employees in the United States, respectively. We’re also in the top three for our number of snack food manufacturing establishments. York County, in particular, has become known as the “Snack Food Capital of the World,” given its concentration of popular brands and food production facilities, including Martin’s Potato Chips and Snyder’s of Hanover. And we are proudly home to some of the most enduring snack food brands in the country, including 150-year-old Lititz-based Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery, the first commercial pretzel bakery in America.
Taste of Pennsylvania
Want to learn more about the industry that provides valuable jobs and delicious snacks? Many of our snack food companies offer factory tours so visitors can witness the process firsthand — and sample, of course! Here are just a few of the places you can get your snack on in Pennsylvania:
For more than a century, Snyder’s has proudly reigned as America’s Pretzel Bakery, and continues the tradition with a variety of snack foods still produced in Hanover today. Free guided tours are offered with advance reservations. On the tour, travel through the factory for a glimpse of how tradition, technology, and teamwork combine to make these delicious pretzels.
Opened in 1973, Hershey’s Chocolate World was originally built as a replacement for the Hershey chocolate plant tour after it could no longer handle the large number of visitors it received each year. More than 40 years and millions of visitors later, the chocolate tour remains free, and the attraction offers a variety of experiences and entertainment for adults and children alike that not only educate them about the chocolate-making process, but allow them to enjoy the final product as well.
Founded in 1946 when 21-year-old James Stauffer Herr bought a small potato chip company in Lancaster, PA, Herr’s now produces more than 340 different snack foods, including cheese curls, popcorn, meat sticks, pretzels, nuts, and more! Go on its snack factory tour to see firsthand how its snacks are made and learn fun facts about the company, its history, and its products.
The Utz® story began in 1921 in a home kitchen, producing about 50 pounds of chips an hour for local grocers and markets. Today, Utz® is the largest independent, privately held snack brand in the United States, producing more than 3.3 million pounds of snacks per week (about half of which are potato chips). Utz® also produces cheese curls, kettle chips and pretzels. See and smell how potato chips are made at the famous Utz® Potato Chips and Snacks 600,000 square foot facility. This free self-guided tour will show the production process of the potato chip from beginning to end.
Ever since Turkey Hill Dairy found its beginnings during the early 1930s, it’s been a fixture in Lancaster County and its culture. At the Turkey Hill Experience, you can check out interactive exhibits about dairy culture, the story behind the Dairy, and how the company’s ice cream and ice tea flavors are selected and created. From experiencing a day in the life of a Turkey Hill Dairy ice cream maker to starring in your own commercial and sampling the products, this experience is sure to be one you’ll never forget.
Grow in Pennsylvania
If you’re a business in the food industry, there are countless ways that you can put down roots and flourish in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s (DCED) First Industries Fund, Next Generation Farmer Loan Program, and Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority all provide funding for agriculture-related projects. PA Preferred, a public-private partnership between the PA Department of Agriculture and many companies throughout the state, promotes buying Pennsylvania food products, and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s PAgrows program navigates companies through funding and lending opportunities.
Our concentrated industry and central location in the heart of the Mid-Atlantic play to the strength of our comprehensive intermodal infrastructure. Whether by road, rail, water, or air, you can be confident your products will be able to quickly and easily reach millions of consumers in six of the 10 largest markets in the country. It’s safe to say that Pennsylvania is dedicated — and well-poised — to help food processors and snack food manufacturers find sweet (or salty!) success in Pennsylvania.
To learn more about the agribusiness industry in Pennsylvania, visit the DCED website. To stay up-to-date on all Pennsylvania news, follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and sign up for our monthly e-newsletter.
Carrie’s passion for Pennsylvania inspires her work as Deputy Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Office of Marketing, Tourism, and Film. She was responsible for reviving the Pennsylvania tourism brand in 2016, which introduced the state’s new tourism mantra: “Pursue Your Happiness.” She and her team promote Pennsylvania’s vast history, unique small towns, and abundant outdoor activities while encouraging travelers to explore what matters most to them. Carrie also leads economic development marketing initiatives, promoting the advantages of doing business in Pennsylvania and the symbiotic relationship between its unique communities and the job-creating businesses that choose to locate there.