One of Michigan's little gems in the small-town category is Chelsea. It has cute shops, a wonderful theatre (The Purple Rose) and a famous factory! For those of us who live in mid-Michigan it is a convenient meet-up place between Lansing and Ann Arbor and that's exactly what I did with blogger Mae a few weeks ago. We started our afternoon together at the Common Grill, a wonderful restaurant.
After a lunch that included a fabulous lobster roll (because really, in Michigan they aren't that easy to find!) and topped off with lemon sorbet, we took a little bit of shopping time and found this hidden garden in the back of one of the main street stores.
The it was a walk down Main Street to tour the Jiffy Mix factory.
You know Jiffy Mix -- those little baking mix boxes for muffins, breads, pie crusts and cakes? Well, they are made in Michigan, about 45 minutes from my house!
The factory tours are free and take about 45 minutes. And they are remarkably interesting and well done.
We were met by our guide in the lobby and first saw the process through a fun video. I was surprised to learn that almost all of their ingredients come from within 150 miles of the plant. They make their own flour for the mixes (and in fact, that's how this four-generation family business started in 1901 -- as a flour mill.). Even the familiar blue boxes are printed in Michigan. After the movie, when our tour began, we saw the boxes go from flat shells to a folded box on the assembly line.
The factory employs a large number of people from the town -- about 300. Our guide said they were very good employers. She had worked there a number of years, both in the factory and now as a tour guide.
I didn't realize they had about 18 or 19 different mixes. Usually on the store shelves you only see a few. One of the things I learned was that they also package their mixes in larger sizes -- 25 pounds, I think -- for use in institutions such as hospitals, schools, prisons and hotels.
The tour includes only a portion of the factory and is very loud with all the machinery, so it was smart for them to show a video that went step by step. (And easier to hear!) Nevertheless, it was fun to see the blue boxes packaged on the assembly line -- carefully measured and loaded up! The only downside was that no photos were allowed inside the plant. I'd love to be able to show you the carousel of machinery that helps bring these mixes to your market!
Everyone gets a little goodie bag at the end of the tour -- we received two boxes of the banana muffin mix and a cookbook. (I was hoping it was their tasty corn muffin mix -- I use it in my favorite corn casserole, a winter favorite!) You could also purchase mix samplers at a bit of a discount and they had them ready for you when you left. I really recommend you check out Mae's post on the tour! She bought one of the sets and her post includes how she jazzed up the cornbread for a delicious dinner accompaniment!
After we parted, I continued my Chelsea walk, stopping in at a few of the very cute shops. My favorite was the Potting Shed.
Inside and out it was filled with seasonal fun.
I was reasonably good on this trip, but it was tough!
I very nearly caved in and bought these cement bunnies for my garden.
And I loved this Halloween reminder!
But I held firm. These pumpkins in pots, though, may make a modified appearance in my fall decorating. I know I have pots -- and I can get pumpkins!
Thanks for coming along on our road trip to Chelsea!
This post is linked to Thoughts of Home on Thursday and Share Your Cup where you'll find plenty of inspiring links to enjoy! Check them out!
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