Every year we spend at least one (sometimes two) weekends at Boyne Mountain skiing. We’ve been doing this for over ten years, so it really feels like a second home. One of our annual traditions during this ski trip is to visit the headquarters of Kilwins Chocolates.

Kilwins Factory Tour in Petoskey, Michigan

To anyone who isn’t familiar with Kilwins, they began their journey in Petoskey, Michigan as a bakery in 1947. Don and Katy started developing candy and chocolate recipes that are still used today. In 1985, they added ice cream to the line-up.

Some of my favorite things about Kilwins is their attention to detail, the fact that they use local ingredients when possible (and when they can’t they are incredibly particular about getting the best ingredients possible) and that they require all franchises to go through extensive training.  Another example of their concern with creating the best product experience is that the company decided to buy their own trucks to deliver ice cream so that they could ensure it would arrive at the proper temperature.

Kilwins background information

The factory tour is available every half-hour Monday through Friday from 10 – 4:30 and it is FREE! It’s fun to watch the candy being made, taste the delicious chocolate and learn more about the history of Kilwins. Even though I’ve done this tour multiple times, I learn something new each year. Much of the equipment being used to create the chocolates has been around since the beginning – and is still going strong.

On this particular tour, we watched truffle filling being mixed, caramel and peanut butter filling being spread out to cool, marshmallows being prepared and sea foam being covered in chocolate. Lots going on and plenty of human interaction.

Kilwins factory tour in Petoskey, Michigan

Since I have a tree nut allergy my family always makes me take a picture by these doors – they think it’s hilarious so I oblige.

Kilwins Chocolates in Petoskey, Michigan

All the chocolates sold in Kilwins stores are made right here in Petoskey at THIS location. The individual stores (which are franchises) create the hand dipped items (like chocolate covered strawberries, apples, etc.) and the Mackinaw City fudge themselves.

The store itself is HUGE and you can purchase any kind of chocolate you’d like along with all of the ice cream flavors and a variety of fudge. We always go home with a few caramels and some chocolate. I’ll often purchase my all-time favorite “drinking chocolate” from the ice cream counter. Yum!

Interior of Petoskey, Michigan Kilwins store

Taking an hour out of our ski trip to enjoy Kilwins has always been the perfect way to learn something new, enjoy delicious chocolates and create a fun family tradition that we all look forward to. Next time you see a Kilwins, stop in and know that you’re purchasing a sweet treat that was created with plenty of history and love for good candy!

Do you have any fun traditions like this when you travel? Something that you always make a point to stop and check out? I’d love to hear about it in the comments, so please share.

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