This is a memory, and I’m wondering if we encountered something special. What other field trips so brazenly risk the ire of parents?
Back when I was just entering my teenage years (I think I was thirteen), I went to an urban summer camp and took their leadership-in-training course. Not that we were all that trained in leadership; it was just another form of summer day care to keep me out of my mother’s hair, but with a cool term to keep us young teenagers from saying “this sucks” and striking off across the city on our own.
Anyway, the highlights of the summer camp were the field trips. We visited the Coke bottling plant on Overlea; we toured a McDonalds, and we paid a visit to a Cadbury factory situated incongruously in a turn-of-the-century neighbourhood in west end Toronto.
As an aside, I’m trying to find out more about this factory. I’m not even sure if the company involved was Cadbury, although they did make Crispy Crunches and Sweet Maries on their conveyor belts. Looking around, I find a reference to the Candy Factory, a loft development on the southeast corner of Queen and Shaw, but that doesn’t jive with my memory, which is of a stone industrial building on a tree-lined residential street, about halfway between two of the streetcar routes that ply Toronto’s west-end streets.
What I remember most of all about this trip, of course, were the free samples. We were broken up into groups and led by a tour guide through the factory floor. We saw the bars emerge from the machines and get coated with chocolate. More than one of my team members wanted to sample right off the conveyor belt, but our tour guide wouldn’t allow it, noting that the chocolate bars hadn’t passed through the safety inspection. He then showed us how bad bars were removed by putting a pen on the conveyor belt within the line of chocolate bars, which got the whole line of bars whisked into the trash at the next machine.
So, no sampling off the conveyor belt, BUT, he did take us to the wrapping area of the belt, where the finished bars were put into their Crispy Crunch and Sweet Marie wrappers, and he allowed us to sample. Not little pieces of a single fresh chocolate bar, either. No. One bar for each of us. And not one of those “fun sized” bars, either. A full fledged chocolate bar.
For every single line. There was Caramilk as well.
At the end of the day, I think our group of early-and-pre-teens had consumed a sum total of five chocolate bars each. At which point the tour came to a close, we thanked our guides profusely, and we piled onto the yellow school bus to take us back to summer camp. We arrived at the end of the day, our parents waiting to meet us, seriously juiced up on loads of sugar.
Our parents never know what hit them.
I’ve done more research and I’ve found that the factory was indeed owned by Cadbury (formerly Nielsoon). It was in the west end of Toronto, and it’s still active on Gladstone Avenue. Apparently it’s located near the buried Garrison Creek