If you follow MommyPR you have noticed in the past year I have done several posts regarding Musselman’s apple sauce. What I thought would be a one time review has blossomed into a great partnership. I was recently a very lucky woman because I received an invitation to attend Musselman’s first annual, “Day at the Orchard,” a behind-the-scenes look at Musselman’s on the very first day of Fall.
I was extremely excited and honored and quickly arranged for child care for my boys. Time quickly flew by and before I knew it I was on a plane headed to the middle of apple country in Historic Gettysburg PA. I quickly met up with the other bloggers (the great women from Rockin’ Mama, The Happy Housewife, Mama’s Money Savers and I Ate A Pie) and it was pretty apparent that we were going to have a fabulous time.
The wonderful people at Musselman’s and the PR agency definitely spoiled us! We were picked up in a limo and driven to the Gettysburg Hotelwhich had great rooms and service. Once we checked in we each got a great bag of goodies which included treats from local companies (Hershey’s, Snyder’s Pretzels and of course Musselman’s apple sauce).
We were given an hour or so to freshen up and then met for dinner at a great restaurant called The Dobbin House Tavern. There we met some great people from the Musselman’s team: Dick Esser – Vice President of Sales and the wonderful ladies from marketing: Helene Briggs, Laura Marshall and Pam Hinkle. We had great conversations and an even greater dinner featuring some delicious Musselman’s products: apple juice, apple butter and a scrumptious apple pie along with a truly thoughtful home-made apple cookie. Too say were were stuffed was an understatement.
The next morning the real fun began- we started by taking a guided facility tour of the Ortanna Plant. We divided into 2 groups and toured the apple sauce and the apple juice portions with our very knowledgeable guides Mike Binkley (Plant Manager) and Chris Koontz (Plant Superintendent). After the plant tour we were able to meet with John Cafarchio – Manager of Technical Specs and Mervyn D’Souza – Director of Technical Services and Bob Fisher – Vice President of Marketing for a question and answer session.
Diced apples heading to the cooker:
Filled juice bottles:
My thoughts on the tour:
- To sum up my plant experience in word would be quality, quality and quality. Quality is the #1 theme at Musselman’s. They have quality checks every 30 minutes on the line and hourly checks in the lab. I was amazed that they are able to trace each and every apple used right to the spot it is grown in the orchard.
- I had no idea how highly automated the plant was- the amount of technology used is astounding
- I was also impressed how no part of the apple is wasted, what isn’t used by Musselman’s is fed to local livestock.
- The plant was super clean, well-run and very effective. Each person knew their job and performed it very well.
The most interesting fact I learned:
- Did you know that apples are picked for 4 months out of the year and then “put to sleep” until they are ready to be used? They are stored in controlled atmosphere storage where the air is removed and filtered until it is 1.5% oxygen and 98.5% nitrogen which slows the ripening process down to allows for longer storage.
After the plant tour we then visited El Vista Orchards and met the grower Dave Benner who generously took time out of his very busy schedule to give us a tour. I was amazed at how many different types of apples are grown there, the year-round care that is required, and the dedication it all takes. Here are a couple of my favorite pictures from the apple orchard:
Bloggers with Dave:
Row of apple trees:
We then wrapped things up by having a delicious lunch at the Historic Cashtown Inn. Before I knew it I was back in the crazy, wonderful normal world of just being “mommy”! I can’t begin the express the gratitude to every single person who helped make us bloggers feel pampered and am honored to now be considered part of the Musselman’s grower family!
After seeing the plant and the apple orchard I will use Musselman’s apple products each and every time for my family secondary to the quality, dedication and true passion they have for their products.
** A huge great big thank you to PR Krista and her team…we love you ladies!
I was not paid in any form of cash for this posting.
My travel accommodations, lodging and meals were provided by Mussleman’s.