My Tour of the Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory & Happy National Ice Cream Day/Month!

Junk Food Nation, did you know that yesterday, the third Sunday of July, was National Ice Cream Day?  And that July is National Ice Cream Month?? Oh you did already? Hmmm.  Where have *I* been?

Well, to celebrate this wonderful occasion, Turkey Hill Dairy, one of my favorite ice cream companies, contacted me to attend a tour of their factory in Lancaster, PA.  That’s only about a two hour drive from DC, so the Junk Food Gal and woke up at 6:30am (ON A SUNDAY), fueled up the old Junk Food Mobile, and hit the road!

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory

Don’t be fooled by the light streaming in from the window.  It was early.  I was exhausted.  This is a fake smile.  Definitely grumpy, hence the T-shirt.

You know, it’s surprising how few cars are on the road before 8:00am on a Sunday.  Especially as you drive through middle-of-nowhere Maryland, into only sort-of-middle-of-nowhere Pennsylvania.  The town of Lancaster, PA, where Turkey Hill resides, reminds me SO MUCH of my home town I grew up in.  Sigh.

Once we got to the Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory…

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory

BIG SILOS AND LOTS OF WAREHOUSES!  Yeah, this was going to be a legit tour, not just some fan-experience thing,  I was stoked.  As I pulled up, I immediately thought ARE THOSE HUGE SILOS FULL OF ICE CREAM??? I was told later they weren’t and to stop asking that question.

One of the first things I DID find out however was that Turkey Hill began in 1931 and that their original corporate office was a small house that was right next door to the factory.  Plus, they use these HUGE wind turbines to help power some of the factory.  ENVIRO-CONSCIOUS ICE CREAM! I love it.

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory

OOOH YEAH.  Since I was going to be heading out onto the plant floor, I had to don a hairnet, lab coat, and goggles.  Plus, an earpiece to hear our tour guide.  By the way, that cooler behind me full of Turkey Hill Drinks?  COMPLIMENTARY.  I considered how many I could guzzle before taking the tour, but realized that I’d be in the bathroom all morning if I did that.  Tempting, though.

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory

Oh yeah, and I had to slip steel toed bootcaps over my sneakers.  This was some serious business right here.

I definitely sort of felt like Charlie in Willy Wonka’s factory.  WHAT’S A SNOZZBERRY!?

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory employee locker room!  This is either a dairy factory, or a military bunker.  You decide.

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory

COW TOYS!  Of course I had to take a picture of this.  We hadn’t even made it to the factory floor and I’d already shot about 60 photos.  Of course.

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory

So within the Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory, the employees often walk through a puddle of ice cream to feel one-with-the-company.  Actually, this is sanitizer solution that you drag your feet through as you enter each factory room, to clean off your feet and reduce/eliminate carrying bad stuff from one room to the next.  I feel like my government office building needs a moat of this.

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory was full of fancy machines like this. NUMBERS TIME! Turkey Hill makes about 27 million gallons of ice cream per year (WOW). The milk that is used to make it comes from two local dairy co-ops, and contain no antibiotics…and this milk gets picked up by 6000 gallon tanker trucks, poured into 60,000 gallon containers, and then syphoned into these 12,000 gallon milk tanks (as seen above!)  /End educational portion.  That means if I grabbed one of those hoses, I COULD SPRAY YOU WITH 12,000 GALLONS OF MILK!  That’s…that’s a lot of gallons.

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory has an ice cream supervisor. I imagine this man/woman to be the equivalent of the “Time to make the donuts” guy in the old Dunkin Donuts commercials.

By the way, the tour also went through the Turkey Hill Iced Tea section, and it DEFINITELY smelled like tea all around.  My skin was percolating when we left.

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory also huge mixing machines like this!  “Mix” is the liquid base of ice cream – the milk, the cream, the ….um…well, whatever else was in it.  Whey powder?  That was one too.  Anyways, it’s basically the stuff that you make at home with little kids when you’re prepping your ice cream maker.  Except this one chugs out 50,000 gallons of mix daily!  Which is good, because our tour guide informed us that Turkey Hill only gives a 72 hour life to its milk – by 72 hours it either has to be made into ice cream or bottled.  Employees adhere to this timeline – or else they get SPRAYED WITH 12,000 GALLONS OF MILK.  C’mon, it’s not funny this time either? You guys are curmudgeons.

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory

This is a “super sack” of Whey Powder that apparently weighs 2000 lbs.  Uh, ok.  It’s bigger than me.  I know I’m short but wow.  By the way, it’s the hairnet flattering? I look like I have an external brain.

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory

Finally made it to the packaging part of the Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory!  The machine above was amazing, squirting gallons and gallons of, here, vanilla ice cream into the familiar Turkey Hill tubs.  Interestingly, the ice cream piped out here was only about 18-21 degrees…so not fully hard yet.  More like soft serve consistency.

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory

Our tour guide grabbed a container, and scraped a huge clump using the lid for us to try.  Such a good vanilla!  Tasted even better splattered all around my lips.  From now on, I am only eating ice cream via ice cream lid.

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory

There were a lot of temperatures being thrown around, like the fact that rock hard ice cream is usually at -20 degrees, and that 6 degrees is the usually when ice cream is in the right state to be eaten.  Still below freezing though.

Like a scene out of Unwrapped, the Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory was chugging along, even on a Sunday!  Incredible.  Where’s Lucille Ball when you need her?

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory

The factory had plenty of areas where the mix-ins could be found…huge vats of peanut butter, like the one above, as well as plenty of machines designed to take the solid mix-ins, like cookie dough pieces, etc.

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory

I believe this machine was squirting out Salted Caramel…

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory

…yup, Salted Caramel.  NOM.  If you think this looked good….IT WAS.  I know this is your dream, On Second Scoop

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory

…and this was my fantasy.  That guy was dumping a HUGE VAT of caramel into the salted caramel machine.  Holy mother of….I mean, LOOK AT IT!  I could live in there.  Happily.

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory

AND AWAY THEY GO!  BTW, if you’re wondering why some tubs are upside down…it’s because they fit better together that way!  Essentially an ice cream tub is wider at the top, smaller at the bottom, so to save space, they pack them one up, one down, one up, one down…

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory

…like this!  Pretty cool, huh?  By the way, THAT IS A HELL OF A LOT OF ICE CREAM.  But that’s not all…

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory

This area here was a -12 room at the Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory.  That’s -12 Fahrenheit, people, NOT celsius.  IT WAS DAMN COLD IN HERE.  But all that you see are HUGE pallets of finished ice cream, waiting to be shipped out the door.  LEGIT.Our tour guide said there were above 4000 pallets in there, all just like the one I showed you earlier.

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory

And this is a look at what comprises the pallets – lots of bundles of ice cream like the one I’m holding.  It was surprisingly solid, and light.  Easy to run out the door, into the parking lot, and away with…er…nevermind.

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory

Me and the president of Turkey Hill, Quintin Frey!  The man behind the curtain, himself!  We got to have a very nice Q & A with him, and he told us all about the history of Turkey Hill and some of the operational aspects behind the scenes.

I told him they ought to make ice cream sandwiches.  He told me they did.  Dangit, Junk Food Guy, do your research!  I felt like this:

“You…you remember when you…you made that Salted Caramel Ice Cream?    …..that was awesome.”

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory

After lunch, we headed downtown to check out the Turkey Hill Experience, the fan-consumer based museum/gift shop/etc.

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory

Because it was National Ice Cream Day, everything was free!  They had a flavor available that had been suggested to me by many, their Phillies Graham Slam!  It was…absurdly good.  Also absurdly good was…

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory

…their black raspberry chocolate chip.

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory

I must admit, I am a sucker for cheesy oversized things, like this HUGE tub of ice cream I’m standing in front of which doubles as a small movie theater.  

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory

Turkey Hill also had a taste lab, which is apparently a new experience, where you get to make your own flavor of ice cream!

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory

They had tons of flavorings, and mix-ins, and syrups to choose from!

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory

I made something called “Junk Food Guy Post Workout Smoothie!”  It contained strawberry and banana ice cream, toffee chips, pretzel balls, peanut butter syrup, strawberry syrup, caramel and butterscotch.  The flavor scientists led us through how to make our flavor, what things to consider, etc.

I’m not gonna lie, they warned us about overdoing it with the flavor mix-ins.  They were right.  I tried my creation hours later after some time spent in my freezer, and it tasted awful.  What was I thinking??  Lesson learned, kiddies – less is more.

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory

EVERYWHERE THERE WAS FREE ICE CREAM!  It was hard not to just push this freezer into the parking lot towards my car…

Turkey Hill Dairy Ice Cream Factory


Anyways, it was a wonderful day, and I hope you enjoyed seeing what I saw!  Thanks to Turkey Hill, and everyone I met, especially Allison from PR/Marketing, for making this happen. And thanks to Quintin Frey for having such an amazing company!

Hope you had a good National ICe Cream Day, Junk Food Nation!

Thoughts? Please comment below or hit me up on Twitter @junkfoodguy or LIKE my Facebook Page and message me there. Also, you can always email me at [email protected]. Let’s do this.

Sincerely, Junk Food Guy

Discuss - 40 Comments

  1. Rebecca says:

    It’s like you got to live out an episode of Unwrapped, awesome! What flavor ice cream did Junk Food Gal create?

    • junkfoodguy says:

      @Rebecca: She did a combo of raspberry ice cream, toffee chips, caramel, peanut butter, and pretzel balls, I think. Hers was similarly awful. LOL

  2. Lindemann says:

    All of that is amazing except that horrible flavor you devised. Also the fact that you enjoyed a Philadelphia Phillies-themed ice cream. The Phillies are the devil. But great write-up!

    • junkfoodguy says:

      @Lindemann: I KNOW. But the Phillies ice cream was indeed good. What would Nats ice cream be? Something without any offense, that’s for sure.

  3. Devin says:

    Wow, Turkey Hill Dairy sounds pretty awesome. Now I feel kind of bad that I’ve never really heard of them outside of a few posts on here. I don’t think any stores around here carry their ice cream (at least not any of the ones I go to). I think Blue Bell has this area on lock since they have a plant pretty close by.

  4. Will says:

    So jealous

  5. Kahnfucius says:

    Are you sure that’s peanut butter? It sure looks like Velveeta to me. Mmmmmm. Velveeta ice cream…

  6. Epic post! I want to go swimming in that vat of peanut butter!

  7. Nick Rovo says:

    Let me just add this to my list of reasons why I hate you…

  8. Elisa says:

    Wow, you had a sweet day! 😀 Thanks for sharing and posting pix!

  9. Fred the Baker for the win! Hmmm…donuts and ice cream….

    “Did you ever suck the jelly out of a jelly doughnut and then fill it with chocolate swirl ice cream?”

    Awesome post, though. Seriously. Also: how the heck did we vacation in Lancaster and miss this??

  10. Looks like you had even more fun visiting us than we had hosting you! So glad you and the Junk Food Gal could visit our neck of the woods and get a sneak peek at the Dairy!

  11. John C. says:

    So here’s my question Junk Food Guy- how the hell are you so fit eating all this junk food on a regular basis?? Seriously, I’m definitely interested in learning more about your meal/plan and fitness regimen.

    Also, you hear this Ryan Braun business?? I’m expecting a post tomorrow about it- but what an awful schmuck. Gets a poor guy fired after going on a witch hunt last year to get himself off the hook; and ends up getting so busted this year, he has no choice but to cop to it.

    Hope to hear back soon.

  12. Shorneys says:

    Look, dude. When you’re barely five feet tall, *EVERYTHING* seems like it’s oversized.

    BOOM, roasted. 😀

  13. Brent says:

    Thanks for the tour.! Now if I could only get my hands on some of those samples.

  14. Trout Poutt says:

    Okay, this is amazing, it’s like an episode of How It’s Made! Did you get to sneak peek and upcoming flavours/limited editions?
    Now I want ice cream even though it’s torrential rain outside.

  15. Trout Poutt says:

    ^Any, not and.

  16. Trout Poutt says:

    @Nick Oh damn, now I’m depressed. We get no exciting flavours over here, (even butter pecan is nowhere to be found) although I did find Mince Pie ice cream last holiday season. I want to try that PomBlueberry froyo… Or at least I did until I read your review. I live out my junk food cravings through you guys!

    • Nick Rovo says:

      @Trout: That was Dubba’s review not mine. I actually just finally found that flavor in stores around me and will pick it up soon enough. I feel so bad for you that you can’t even find Butter Pecan. That’s one of my favorite types of ice cream and I don’t think I could live in a country without it in easy access aha.

  17. Trout Poutt says:

    @Nick I noticed that right after I posted, let me know if it’s any good. I miss my Butter Pecan, anything PB flavored is nonexistent too, it’s like torture!
    Also, here’s a fun fact, anything you pick up is the same price you get but in pounds, like Ben & Jerry’s for $5 would be £5, go convert that and share in my depression!

  18. Trout Poutt says:

    I know, it’s ridiculous, most stores close at 5/6pm too. Fun to visit but not to live here!

  19. Jes says:

    Is it open to the public the factories l I’d like to know because I’m planning a trip to philly soon

    • junkfoodguy says:

      @Jes: They have an amazing welcome center with LOTS of cool ice cream activities – but this behind the scenes factory tour was not a public thing. Sorry!

      Also, just an FYI, Turkey Hill HQ is about 2 hours west of Philly, so plan accordingly if you’re gonna go visit! They give away tons of free ice cream in their welcome center – its pretty awesome.

  20. Srephen Newberger says:

    Thanks for sharing tour visit. It looked awesome! Gonna try to make a visit this week.

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Marvo knows what's on shelves before anyone. ANYONE. Our trusty leader on The Nosh Show.

Ryan is the fast food guru. His soft dulcet tones will make you want to eat french fries, immediately.

Dubba is an ice cream wizard. He's got two spoons and he's not afraid to use them. Unless it's something spicy.

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