We Experience Turkey Hill

This week’s adventure started early — an hour or two before Sunday even began, in fact, when the fabulous Jared and Angela rolled into town on their way to their new home in Columbia, South Carolina. In addition to putting them up for the night, Ben & I had planned to take these guys out on the town. However, some flood-inducing thunderstorms and a mix-up between the moving truck and a pylon brought our friends in pretty late and ready to crash (…metaphorically).

The next morning we made a very satisfying venture to the local crêperie, pictured above — where Jared fell in love with an artery-clogging breakfast crepe called “the Oiler” — and gave them a quick tour of the downtown. During which, I happened to mention that Turkey Hill (known previously to me only as a brand of ice cream, but in Pennsylvania, also a gas station, convenience store, and beverage company) has their premises about 20 minutes away and offers something called “The Turkey Hill Experience.” I expected Jarangela to say they needed to hit the road south, but what they said instead was “YES!!!”

Which is how this happened:

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The Turkey Hill Experience isn’t a factory tour (the real factory is a few miles away) but rather a combo museum-about-the-history-of-the-company/museum-about-ice-cream-science/taste-test-and-flavor-experiment-lab. Naturally we signed on for the full shebang.

Most of it was aimed at kids, but of course that just made it more fun…

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…if almost sometimes a bit more challenging…

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We learned about the Susquehanna valley and the town of Conestoga, which are some great names. We got to sample Turkey Hill beverages, which include bottled iced tea and lemonade, and something called “haymaker’s punch,” which is actually quite tasty compared to the usual bottled sweet tea (and contains molasses and ginger, giving it a nifty flavor).

We also got to experience of milking what Jared called “a robot cow” (the udders squirted water if handled properly), of sampling various ice cream flavors; having terrible puns flung at us in a video featuring Turkey Hill’s creepily flirtatious cartoon cow mascot; using a computer program to pretend to create our own flavor (the auto-generate function named mine “Coconutty Balls Under the Palm Tree,” which… how do you top that); and then to actually create our own flavor in the Tasting Lab!

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This process involved being handed a pint of “base” (sugar) flavored white soft serve and a stirring stick, and then walked through the process of adding flavoring drops (bottom row in photo above), add-ins such as candy and nuts (not pictured), and then mixing in a swirl (top row). My creation involved coconut flavored ice cream, with coconut, pecans, and chocolate espresso “pillows” mixed in, and a butterscotch swirl. It was delicious. The best part was that whenever your pint got too full as you stirred, you had to eat some off the top. Then the whole thing went into a “hardener” (super freezer) to counteract the soupy melting factor while we (there were about 25 people or so in the lab) watched a promotional video and answered very child-oriented trivia questions (Angela: “Come ON, everyone knows that!”). Then we got our (not actually any less soupy) ice cream handed back to us and were sent on our merry way.

Finally, since we’re grown-ups and there was absolutely nobody to stop us, we went nuts in the gift shop. All four of us bought t-shirts (what can I say, they were stylish and ice-cream related!) and Jared also made off with a hat and some other goodies.

Unsurprisingly, we skipped lunch that day, unless you count that pint of ice cream. And Jared & Angela motored off to southern regions, leaving us melancholy… but looking back fondly on our shared Experience!

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