Sanders Chocolate Factory Tour
We’re always on the hunt for fun, inexpensive things to do with the kids in the Detroit area. A free tour of the Sanders Chocolate Factory filled that bill, and I can’t say it took a lot of arm-twisting to bring the kids on this outing! In fact, I was pleasantly surprised with how much my 6 and 8 year olds retained from the tour. It lasts approximately an hour and begins with a video explaining the process for making chocolate. This was very well done and I felt like it resonated with them better than other chocolate factory tours that we’ve done where the information is printed on an exhibit. (Good luck trying to go slowly and read it to them when they’re racing ahead for the much-anticipated samples! ;-))
Next was a short video explaining the history of Sanders Confectionary. Begun in the late 1800s by a German-born immigrant, the video traces the history of the company from a soda shop counter in downtown Detroit to becoming a household name with nine locations in Michigan. In the early 2000s, they were acquired by local rival Morley Candy Company and have since begun selling their products nationwide.
Then for the samples and a view of the production line! (Sadly, no pictures allowed.) When we visited, the only line running was the one which supplies Costco with large containers of dark chocolate sea salt caramels. Apparently in order to keep up with demand, this line is always running whenever the factory is open. It was a great one to see though, and our tour guide walked us along, explaining each step of the process, from the making of the caramels to the loading of the pallets for shipment.
The tour ends up in the shop area where you can order something from the counter or purchase something in the store. Wondering what to try? In addition to the caramels (which also come in milk chocolate or without sea salt), Sanders is known for their ice cream, fudge sauce, and for Bumpy Cake (chocolate cake with “bumps” of vanilla buttercream on the top, coated in fudge frosting). We’re pretty keen on the milk chocolate pecan Torties (Turtles)! But it doesn’t really matter what you choose – I’ve never had a piece of Sander’s confectionary that I didn’t love! Seriously, it’s all high-quality stuff.
If, like me, you’re searching for the deep discount section – the imperfect chocolates, the factory seconds! – you won’t find them at the Clinton Township location. The Saint Clair Shores store is the only factory outlet. Along with discounted chocolates, they also carry current stock and have an ice cream counter.
Not in the Detroit area but still wanting to try this chocolate? Costco carries 36 oz. containers of their caramels and occasionally runs a $2 off instant savings on them. At that price, it’s as good as you’d pay for factory seconds! Their products can also be ordered online, or you could make your own Bumpy Cake with a copycat recipe from King Arthur Flour’s site.
Know before you go:
- The Sanders Chocolate Factory tour is about an hour long and is handicap/stroller friendly.
- You need to call ahead to schedule a tour.
- If you can’t make a tour work for your schedule, you can still pop in and see the production line (I’d call ahead to make sure it’s running that day), though you’d miss out on the videos and an explanation of what you’re seeing. You can also ask at the counter (at any of their stores, apparently!) for a free sample.