The world of kosher junk food tours seems heaven-sent for Purim. Some of America's old-time favorites and a few newer arrivals offer factory tours and visits to megastores where you can taste kosher goodies and learn how they're made.
Here's a taste of what the country is serving up, from east to west. It's enough to fill your virtual Purim travel basket with plenty of goodies.
Happy travels and Purim Sameach!
Learn how two childhood friends, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, turned a $5 correspondence course into best-selling ice cream at Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Factory in Vermont. The Cow Over The Moon Theater screens a seven-minute "moovie" featuring the history of this sweet duo. The mezzanine offers a birds-eye view of the manufacturing plant, where the fruit feeder and mixer help produce the pints of frozen treats zipping along the assembly line. And for the finale, the FlavoRoom offers samples of Cherry Garcia, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough or whatever might be the mouth-watering flavor of the day.
Cool off in the scoop shop with more than 50 ice cream, frozen yogurt and sorbet products. And shop for black-and-white, cow-themed gifts or "socially responsible" items.
Ben & Jerry's is located at 30 Community Drive, South Burlington, Vt. The 30-minute tour is offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Admission is $3 (general), $2 (seniors) and free for children 12 and under. Ice cream is made Tuesdays through Fridays. On other days, a video reenactment is shown instead. For more information, call (866) 257-6877 or visit www.benjerry.com/scoop_shops (for an online version of the tour, click on "From Cow to Cone" or on "Fun Stuff" for games and more.
The Real Thing
From its modest beginnings at a small pharmacy soda fountain more than 100 years ago, Coca-Cola is now served nearly 1 billion times a day in 200 countries around the world.
Soak up the remarkable progress of this soft drink at the World of Coca-Cola, a three-story pavilion adjacent to Underground Atlanta, near its original birthplace. Learn the company's history in an extensive museum, view highlights of the best Coke commercials and watch an old-fashioned soda jerk demonstrate how Cokes were once made. "Tastes of the World" offers free samples of soft drinks distributed by Coca-Cola from Japan to Jordan (a similar exhibit is also available at Epcot's Future World in Walt Disney World). A souvenir shop offers all kinds of memorabilia.
World of Coca-Cola is located at 55 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Atlanta. Admission is $8 (adults), $7 (seniors), $5 (kids ages 4-11) and free for children under 3 with a paid adult admission. Call (800) 676-2653 or visit www.woccatlanta.com.
Doctor in the House
If Dr. Pepper is more to your liking, its eponymous museum in Waco, Texas, reveals how the drink was invented. Visits include a tour of the Old Corner Drug Store, the Bottling Room and the soda fountain, all housed in the Artesian Manufacturing and Bottling Co. Its unique turn-of-the-century design earned it a place in the National Register of Historic Places. Special student tours include seeing a video on the effects of the 1953 Waco tornado, exploring the depths of an abandoned well and investigating other "secret places" in the museum.
The Dr. Pepper Museum is at 300 S. Fifth St. in Waco, Texas. Admission is $5 (adults), $4 (seniors) and $3 (students). Visit www.drpeppermuseum.com for a virtual tour of memorabilia and a discount coupon, or call (254) 757-1025 for more information.
Mmm Mmm Good
Giant red, yellow, blue, orange (the crispy one) and green (the female one) "spokescandies" hold court over 28,000 square feet of retail space at M&M's World on the famous Las Vegas strip. Since its debut in late 1997, nearly every variation on M&Ms has been sold here, including 21 colors of peanut M&Ms, T-shirts, plush toys and even designer dresses and furniture. Visitors also learn about the history of the candies, watch a 3-D movie and discover purple -- the latest color voted in by fans.
M&M's World is at 3785 Las Vegas Blvd. S, No. 102, Las Vegas (next to the MGM Grand). Admission is free. For more information, call (702) 736-7611. For a virtual tour, where you can also can collect recipes, play a trivia game, send e-cards and shop online, visit www.mmsworld.com.
Ever wonder how "poulkes" turn into chicken nuggets? Learn how at the only kosher poultry processing plant offering tours. Although not solely in the junk food category, the nuggets make Empire Kosher Poultry Inc. an honorary entry on this itinerary.
Empire Kosher Poultry invites small groups of less than 10 participants by appointment only. It is not for the timid: tours include a live demonstration of ritual slaughter and early processing, as well as a visit to the cooler, turkey staging area and chill pack packaging.
Empire Kosher Poultry in Mifflintown, Pa., is a four-hour drive from New York City. Tours run from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Tuesdays. To schedule a tour, call (800) 233-7177, ext. 214. For more details, visit www.empirekosher.com. Note: visitors must be 12 and older, and should wear waterproof footwear.
Lisa Alcalay Klug, a former staff writer for the Associated Press and Los Angeles Times, writes for The Jerusalem Post, The New York Times and other publications.