Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Turkey Hill experience

One of the very best things that happened in 2011 is that fTM Matt and his lovely wife Sara returned to the East Coast.
The first thing we did together after they arrived waaaaaaay back in August was visit the newly opened Turkey Hill experience in Lancaster, PA. For those of you not from around these parts, Turkey Hill is a dairy that makes wonderful, wonderful ice cream. They also make fabulous flavored teas and have their own min-marts.
Matt and i tried to visit the dairy a while back, but they didn't have factory tours. ...so sad...
But as soon as i read that they had opened an off-site visitor center, i texted Matt and we made a pact to go once he was in the correct timezone.
Any place that has a giant cow overlooking a giant container of ice cream outside of the front door has got to be good, right?
Let us in!

please show some restraint

Built in an awesome old brick factory, the museum portion of the experience was upstairs. After some history of Turkey Hill and some biology of dairy cows [with Matt and Sara saying we have some of them and some of them and a calf of that... remember, Sara was raised on a dairy farm in PA] we got to the entrance

First up was the tea room where we learned all about brewing tea, different types of tea and why the machinery used in a dairy is well suited to be modified for making and bottling iced tea.
There was a fun interactive to find out what type of tea would be your favorite based on your personality; no lie, it picked the correct tea for all three of us.
Then there was the tea tasting area; you could try every single variety of their iced teas. It was fun to taste flavors that i would never normally buy.

The best place in the tea room, though, was the chill zone. Painted sky blue, there were cloud screens on the ceiling projecting a short film about Turkey Hill tea that you had to lay on your back on squishy beanbags to watch.
Very relaxing. 
Onto the ice cream discovery section we go -
right through a giant ice cream container.

This was an amazing exhibit.
Working in a museum i really pay attention to signage and flow-through and line facilitation and on-floor staff - probably more than your average guest.
I was impressed.
There was a ton of information, but all sorts of interactives as well.

First you have to make sure the milk is safe to process so we learned about microbes, both good and bad,
and then played a game to destroy the bad bacteria while cultivated the good.

After turning the milk to basic ice cream, there was a fabulous interactive on how to mix flavors. At these columns, you could emboss scents onto a card, mixing them in different ways to find ones that you liked.

Then it was time to make your own imaginary ice cream at a bank of computer terminals. Our tickets had an activation code so that once you were happy with your flavor and named it, the computer remembered it for the next station. Matt tried to recreate something like a flavor called Moose Moss that he'd had in Canada, Sara went with a coconut and pretzel mix (i think) called Quirky Lou and i created Nikilicious.

On to mixing, with a giant walk-through Disco Blender and i really hard game about the precision it takes to mix industrial amounts of various flavors. 

Time to create the packaging for our ice cream. Again, you just entered your code and up popped all sorts of designs that you could use. I'd never thought about how big the picture should be on the box or whether to have it in a bowl or on a cone. Very enlightening.

mmmmm... looks delicious
i'd buy it

As we waited in line for the last station - making a commercial for your product - i noticed a monkey sitting way up on a display. Why in the world would there be a monkey in a place all about cows?
A staff member told us that the managers place the monkey in a different place every day and the employees have to find it during the shift; so, basically all museum people are weird, not just me.
Once you were done with your commercial, there was a tasting area. they didn't have all of the flavors that Turkey Hill makes, but they had several that you could try.
There were also some mechanical cows to practice milking that were an engineering feat. Matt and Sara were both impressed that you had to use the correct finger rolling motion; I was just impressed that i managed to get it right.

Finally it was time to go downstairs to the gift shop and creamery for some treats!

All of the things that you did in the exhibit were put on a website and the address was mailed to you, which is how i have all of my Nikilicious stuff. Unfortunately, they only keep it posted for a certain amount of time, so when i went to pull Matt and Sara's things, they were gone.
But, because you've waited so patiently, here is me interviewing a cow - my hat was making me insane throughout the shoot, but you only got one take.
If you ever find yourself with a free afternoon in Lancaster, i highly recommend the Turkey Hill Experience.


Rea said...

Why, O, Why is there ALWAYS a monkey???? I <3 Cows!

Anonymous said...

Monkeys are awesome!!! and this place looks great! i wanna go there! You find the best places :-D Sheryl

Douglas said...

Do we need to address this cow thing you've got going on as of late?

Douglas said...

You didn't tell us what tea your personality was.

Brenda*Nery said...

As Tina Fey would say: I want to go to there!

Niki said...

I don't think that i have a "cow thing" as Douglas has called it so much as i have a deep abiding love for all things dairy.

I believe the computer suggested raspberry sweet tea for me, which i love.