Kentucky folks pride themselves on Kentucky basketball, University of Kentucky football, horse racing, and good old Kentucky Chocolate. If you ask anyone from Kentucky who has the best chocolate, they will all answer, “You haven’t tried chocolate until you tried chocolate from the Old Kentucky Chocolate Factory.” We decided they were right and took a tour of that factory with my Aunt Peggy.
Don Hurt founded Old Kentucky Chocolate over factory 50 years ago, in 1964, after getting out of the Army . He has been called the Willy Wonka of Kentucky where he perfects his scrumptious art of candy making. Our tour started as soon as we walked through the factory door. We could smell the rich, sweet smell of chocolate and taste it; yummy! We started in the popcorn area where we learned about the cooking process of some sweets like caramels, why they use copper pots (they hold heat best) and how the candy coated popcorn is made. Our guide told us the story behind the chocolate potato chips, and mouth watering cherry bourbon, mint derby, and pulled creams. They gave the girls a special treat of freshly popped popcorn.
We made our way to the chocolate car wash, mold room, and packaging area. In the mold room we learned that all chocolate comes from a cocoa bean and the difference between white chocolate and milk chocolate. We learned that dark chocolate still has milk in it just not a lot of sugar. Last we ended with what is called the chocolate car wash and the watched the candies ride on the conveyor belt to the package room which is reminiscent of the famous episode on “I Love Lucy” where she worked at a chocolate factory.
Some other favorite stories were that Mr. Hurt bought Old Fashion Pulled Cream Candy from Kentucky Fried Chicken Corporation so that Colonel Sanders’ mother could enjoy the candy anytime she wanted. Not many people knew that the Colonel owned a candy store and he has sold the Colonel’s Candy to Cracker Barrel for over 30 years in a testimony to the original recipe created years ago.
We give this factory tour five candy coated popcorns out of five. The tour chocolate stores that actually allows people to tour where the candy helpers are not behind glass. They give samples galore and will allow you to taste every candy they make if you want. Bring your checkbook though! You won’t be able to leave without buying at least one box of candy. The tour is free to adults and kids, but they do ask you make reservations. Monday – Thursday at ten am or two pm.