Living in Vegas means that we never have a shortage of things to do. We play tourist quite often and have the best time visiting all the fun places we have in this town. At the end of the summer, our family finally took a trip to a place we had been wanting to visit since we moved here last year: the Ethel M’s Chocolate Factory Tour.
First, a bit of history….
Ethel M’s Chocolate started with their founder, Forrest Mars Sr.. He watched his mother create gourmet chocolates in their home during the early nineteen-hundreds in Tacoma, Washington. In 1981, Forrest Mars Sr, “retired” to Henderson, Nevada (just outside of Las Vegas) and he created Ethel M Chocolates to honor his mother. The chocolates are at 8 locations throughout Las Vegas and also at www.ethelschocolate.com. Ethel M’s Chocolate is one part of Mars, Incorporated — I”m sure you’ll recognize some of the other big product names from Mars, Incorporated, such as M&M’s, Snickers, Dove…just to name a few.
Tourists from all over the world visit the chocolate factor here in Vegas. There was even 3 tour buses there during our trip. It’s a free self guided chocolate tour, so it makes a great stop if you have kids, if you love chocolate, or if you are just looking for an inexpensive activity off of the Las Vegas Strip.
To start the tour, you enter through the M&M’s World – this M&M’s World is not a big store like the one on the Las Vegas Strip, but it’s a small shop with all sorts of colorful and fun M&M’s merchandise. The tour is a large walkway with viewing glass on one side showing you the actual chocolate kitchen and production and on the other side is a wall with lots of facts about chocolate and the Mars company.
There is information on other Mars products, such as this display which explains where certain products are made. David enjoys trivia like this – he’s always interested in knowing locations of things.
Across from those signs is where you can see the production of the chocolates in their kitchen. On the left in the image below is the original kettles that they have been using for over 30 years. They are used to make caramels, brittles, and other confections. There is signs hanging in the production area that tell you the names of things and/or what happens in a certain area. For example the purple sign hanging in the middle says “cream beaters” – which is large vats where their Satin Cremes are made. It’s hard to see, but way in the VERY back, more on the left, there is a sign that says “Stephan Machines”. These machines are big food processors which make their ganache.
The viewing glass has facts on it too – in this photo below you can see how it explains the caramel apple station and how they dip Granny Smith apples in caramel and then sprinkle with nuts and drizzle with chocolates. We got to sample their caramel apples in the Ethel M store and they are AMAZING.
As you walk along, we entered the area where the product line is.
I’m not exactly sure what is happening in this photo, but it’s another part of the production line. Here we could tell that they were making heart shaped chocolates which we assumed were for Valentine’s Day.
At some point, those heart chocolates were popped out of their mold and made it to this worker.
After the production line, the chocolates worked their way down to packaging.
It was here that we realized that the chocolates they were making today were for Valentine’s Day. See the heart shaped boxes? Mattie and Courtney were both surprised that it was the summer, but that they were already working on Valentine’s candy. That opened up a lot of great conversation where we talked about how products actually end up on store shelves in time for holidays.
This was the end of the tour, but right as you are are leaving, they let you pick either a piece of either white, dark, or milk chocolate to sample. Mattie picked milk chocolate.
The tour officially ends in their Ethel M store. They sell all their chocolates here, plus other items like their caramel apples, and even ice cream.
You can buy premade packages of chocolate or design your own collection of chocolate from the display cases – and they have ice packs so you can keep your chocolate from melting…very handy in our desert heat.
And, of course, there was cool Vegas themed chocolate pieces.
After we browsed, we headed outside to visit the botanical cactus garden – I took LOTS of photos of that too but will save that for part 2 of our visit. It’s a beautiful garden right there on the grounds of the chocolate factory.
Before leaving, Mattie and Courtney did the souvenir penny engraving machine to add to their collection.
We had a lot of fun and we recommend it to everyone. It was interesting learning about how chocolate is made and seeing what they actually use to make all those sweet treats we love. We do plan to go back in November or December – this is when the botanical cactus garden is lit up with Christmas lights – I wanted to go last year, but we never found the time. This year I’m making it a top priority!
Now tell me…if you took the tour and you had to pick dark, white, or milk chocolate – which one would you have picked?
(note: this post was not compensated or sponsored – we enjoyed our visit so much that we wanted to share it!)