The ice cream experience

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The Turkey Hill Experience is not a factory tour, per se. But it’s housed on the old Turkey Hill factory in Columbia, Pa.

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There’s a little Turkey Hill history, a chance to milk a mechanical cow and plenty of photo ops.

One trip to the Turkey Hill Experience would have been plenty if all we did was wander through the exhibits and finish at the gift shop. But ice cream is the real draw—so much so that after I went with my Dad and sister, I went back with my grown daughter. And I’d go again.

The Turkey Hill Experience primarily designed for children or families with children—complete with games, a chance to design a virtual ice cream flavor, test out aromas and even make a commercial. But we were all adults. The children’s activities were amusing.

I admit we did want to know what our “tea personality” is.  And my Dad and I had to sit in the milk truck.

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Who knew learning about pasteurization could be this much fun?

Okay and we had to get a scoop of ice cream (besides the Taste Lab.) We didn’t design our own packaging or make the commercial—but we did design our own virtual flavor. The children around us looked like they were having a ball. And so were their parents.

What we really came for was the Taste Lab so we could make our own real ice cream. For about 45 minutes we stirred flavorings, crunchy bits called “inclusions” and syrups called “variegate” into a pint of soft vanilla ice cream. It’s a little messy but it’s fun and it’s delicious.

I originally expected a factory tour. We had so much fun visiting the Herrs Snack Factory a while back.

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     A pint of ice cream awaits its new flavorings and “variegates” located behind my cup.

But this is only set in the original Turkey Hill factory. The real dairy is a few miles away. If you go, make sure to look at the building itself; they don’t make brick and stone factories like this anymore.

I must add that the second trip was as much fun as the first. Yup, even with the $15 admission (including Taste Lab) and the gas and the drive of more than an hour.

But then, I like a drive through the countryside. And a drive in late summer is brilliantly green with cerulean sky and a smattering of colorful wildflowers. Our destination, the Pennsylvania town of Columbia, has its own old-fashioned charm. It sits on the Susquehanna River, is packed with little antique shops, eateries and museums for things most of us take for granted.

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So many inclusions to choose from. The “instructor” recommends no more than three.

But what I really went for was that ice cream. And do you know what? I’d go again. Next time, I’d really like to take children. This looks like a kids’ paradise. With ice cream.

Ⓒ Text and photos Mary K. Tilghman



5 responses to “The ice cream experience

    • I mixed in coffee flavor until it was creamy like a cappuccino and then added chocolate chips, pecans and these little cappuccino bits. Finally I added swirls of chocolate and caramel. Here’s the funny part. When I returned for a second visit, I made the same thing.

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