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“From Our Family to Yours” Personal Meanings of Work in Factory Tourism Americans grow up with Pennsylvania in their closets, in their toy boxes, in their kitchens. They know crayons, Slinkies, Zippo lighters. They know the Jeep without knowing it was invented in Butler. We’re branded as authentic. As much as they know Gettysburg and the Liberty Bell and Valley Forge, they also know ketchup and crayons. —Lenwood Sloan, Director of Cultural and Heritage Tourism, Pennsylvania Tourism Office Even as factories themselves have been disappearing from the landscape, in recent years tourism literature has increasingly promoted the state’s many “factory tours.” The curious can visit the Utz Potato Chip factory in Hanover, the Martin Guitar Company in Nazareth, and the Yuengling Brewery in Pottsville, as well as museums that celebrate Crayola Crayons and Zippo lighters. York, home to the Harley-Davidson motorcycle plant tour, calls itself “The Factory Tour Capitol of the World.” The familiarity and nostalgic appeal of such products have made them effective subjects of public history as well. In 2008, the State Museum of Pennsylvania mounted an exhibit called “Made in PA.” While it included interpretation and artwork about the coal, iron, and steel industries, this display was dominated by brand-name products, including Mack Trucks, Quaker State Motor Oil, Yuengling, Rolling Rock and Iron City beers, and Slinky, whose repeating musical advertising jingle wafted out of the exhibit.1 Quaker State Motor Oil and Rolling Rock Beer are no longer made in Pennsylvania, but other wellknown names remain, and several invite the public to watch their products being made. 110   Pennsylvania in Public Memory Factory tours have been given in Pennsylvania for more than a century, since the H. J. Heinz Company opened its doors to the public beginning in the 1890s. “Some 20,000 visitors were trooping through the Allegheny factory annually at the turn of the century” to watch workers in the Pickle Works, the Baked Bean Building, and the Bottling Department, Robert C. Alberts writes in his history of the company.2 The Heinz tour emphasized the care and cleanliness with which its condiments were made and packaged, as well as the founder’s success story, featuring, by 1905, “The House Where We Began.” According to Roland Marchand, “The plain two-story house in Sharpsburg, Pennsylvania, where Henry Heinz had first prepared horseradish sauce in 1860, had arduously been lifted from its foundations and floated down the Allegheny River to nestle in the courtyard of the huge Heinz plant in Pittsburgh. It served to narrate, architecturally , an edifying story of success through diligence and morality.”3 In the opening decades of the twentieth century, amid concern and legislation about food safety, tours were meant to reassure the public that such products , even if mass-manufactured, were made by wholesome, careful individuals who took pride in the details of their work. At Heinz, visitors watched hundreds of “spotlessly clean girls” as they “packed, inspected, corked, capped, and labeled” pickles, notes Alberts.4 During the Depression, tours also were part of an effort to improve corporate image in order to counter distrust of big business . Appeals were made to the public in friendly, conversational language.5 In 1938, Hershey Chocolate promoted its factory tours with an advertisement in the format of a letter printed on company letterhead: To People Everywhere and Especially Children: The people of the United States are the largest consumers of chocolate and cocoa products in the world. Children and grown-ups like to eat chocolate because it is so delightful . Wouldn’t you like to see how it is made? Then come to Hershey, Pennsylvania some day and our guides will take you through the factory and explain it. Sixty to seventy thousand people go through our plant each year. Why not you? We will welcome you.6 Food manufacturers led the factory-tour trend, and they dominate factory tourism now. In the middle decades of the twentieth century, the offerings were Personal Meanings of Work   111 thematically much broader, thanks to thriving industrial production and the growth of family automobile travel in the postwar era. By the 1950s, Pennsylvania state tourism literature declared, “No other state offers the wide variety of different family tours to interest children. From steel mills and aluminum plants to hat factories and paper mills along with an exciting visit to the Hershey Chocolate Co.”7 Among the thirty-three businesses listed in 1950s and 1960s editions of a “Pennsylvania Plant Tours” brochure were...


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