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May 26, 2014

Out & About: Harry & David

Out & About: Harry & David

When I was young, we always had an influx of gift baskets during the holidays seasons (my dad has always been in sales). I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love EVERY second of it. How could I not??  Besides gift cards,  gift baskets are my favorite thing to receive.  The thought put into the combination of flavors…the themes…the basket itself and the additional accessories (cutting boards! plastic wine glasses! cheese knives! napkins!) ALL OF IT excites me. If I could tell my childhood self that I’d be touring the factory of Harry & David one day, I’m sure little Tracy would FREAK OUT. You mean, I get to see how the baskets are crafted and shipped? COOL!!

Last month, I traveled up to Medford Oregon to visit the headquarters of Harry & David. Not only did I arrive to wonderful weather, but I was greeted by the friendliest bloggers & staff.  My trip included Heather Christo, Cathy of The Noble Pig, Jackie of The Beeroness, Dorothy of Crazy for Crust and Sandy of The Reluctant Entertainer (who graciously helped organize the group/trip).  Thank you for inviting me, Sandy!! (She really excels at entertaining!)

Harry & David put us all up in the beautiful/charming Ashland Springs Hotel where I raided my gift basket INSTANTLY.

Out & About: Harry & David

Our first day started at Sandy’s house for lunch where we had a tasty lunch catered by Fresco Food Truck.

Out & About: Harry & David

I got to meet Sandy’s dog, Haggis. Look at that face!!

Out & About: Harry & David

We all devoured Sandy’s little Lime Meringue Cakes. (AMAZE)

Out & About: Harry & David

After lunch, we had a tour of the Harry & David’s pear and peach orchards with Matt Borman, the Orchard Director. It was fascinating to learn how hard they work to naturally control pests and protect their crop from frost during the colder months.  You can tell that Matt is truly passionate about what he does.

Out & About: Harry & David

I learned that Harry & David is best know for their Royal Riviera (TM) Pears. These special pears require a special climate and soil only found in a few places in the world. Go OREGON, GO! They also grownpeaches that require an extra amount of work. I hope to try those when they’re in season.

Out & About: Harry & David

Their orchards produce over 14,000 tons of harvested pears grown on 750,00 pear trees each year.

That’s a lot of pears!!!

Out & About: Harry & David

Our tour ended with a nice spread of cookies, nuts and of course…pears!

Out & About: Harry & David

Later in the day, we got ready for dinner at Alchemy at the Winchester Inn. Coincidentally, the first time I went to Oregon was on a 8th grade class trip to the Shakespeare Festival (in Ashland). It was love at first sight and I think that’s part of the reason why I chose to go to the University of Oregon for college. I LOVE the pacific northwest. I feel like I left my heart there when I graduated from college.

The food & drinks were exceptional at Alchemy.  I ordered this cocktail called the Zodiac because HOW COULD I NOT?!

Out & About: Harry & David

The next morning we woke up early to tour the Harry & David factory. When we walked in, we were hit with the intoxicating smell of chocolate.  Our group watched the production of truffles, bundt cakes, chocolate covered cherries and S’mores Moose Munch. It felt like we were viewing a live episode of How It’s Made (I love that show!).

Out & About: Harry & David

We headed up to their lab and met Charlie Douglass, Harry & David’s head chocolatier.

Out & About: Harry & David

Charlie’s in charge of the Harry & David chocolate factory. What an appropriate name for a chocolatier :)

Out & About: Harry & David

We all put on Harry & David lab coats and we spent time painting chocolate eggs for Easter.

I love a good art project…especially when it’s edible!

Out & About: Harry & David

At one point I started mixing my paints and created a marble-like swirl. I think Charlie liked the direction I was going in because he came up, dipped his hand in the chocolate and…

Out & About: Harry & David

Created his own chocolates with the swirl. He filled the rest in with milk chocolate. They were beautiful. I loved his technique!

Out & About: Harry & David

After we painted the base of our chocolate molds, Charlie poured the chocolate on top.

Out & About: Harry & David

And then he scraped the excess chocolate off in one quick swoop. He’s a total pro.

Out & About: Harry & David

After a little time in the fridge, my painted eggs were done! We un-molded them and here they are.

Out & About: Harry & David

I might use this technique one day…all you need to do is color white chocolate.

Out & About: Harry & David

After our workshop in the lab, we were able to get a peek into their marketing process. We were given a demo of how they create new products and where their inspiration comes from. I was happy to see a few pictures from my friends on the internet in their mood boards.  I learned that they build their assortment based on industry trends, customer feedback and sales results.  It goes to show you that you never know who will find inspiration from your work online.

Out of everything they showed us, I really loved the packaging for all of their Father’s Day towers. So clean & simple.

We also got to taste their cheesecakes (a new partnership with The Cheesecake Factory) as well as some of their new truffle flavors (I really liked the ice cream inspired line).

Out & About: Harry & David

One of my favorite parts of the trip was learning how to put together gift baskets.

There’s definitely an art to it!  We got a demo of how this basket was supposed to be put together and each one of us bloggers made our own.

Out & About: Harry & David

Here’s mine. They shipped it to my house where I immediately opened it up and scarfed down all the Moose Munch popcorn. Cooper ate most of the pears because that’s his favorite fruit.

Out & About: Harry & David

Next, we got to make our own gift towers. They set up stations for us to put together our own gift towers.

Side note: Harry & David created the gift tower concept! And they come up with the prettiest prints for their boxes.

Out & About: Harry & David

This is the part where I learned how terrible I am at making boxes, but it all worked out in the end. We move the pear out so the “reddish” part faces outwards. (I fixed the bottom one) And we wrap one pear with golden paper. I’ve got the golden ticket!! Errr… I mean pear.

Out & About: Harry & David

My gift tower was done and I sent it to my mom…not realizing they would be on vacation when it arrived. It had been in a box for a few days in her neighbor’s house and everything was still perfect! Pears were ready to be eaten.

Out & About: Harry & David

After our day in the factory, we had a very special dinner at DanCin Vineyards.

Out & About: Harry & David

We got a little tour of their vineyards where got to hear their story and try their Pinot & Chardonnay.

Out & About: Harry & David

Dorothy of Crazy for Crust tried her first oyster!  Proud of you, Dorothy!

Out & About: Harry & David

We had a very special dinner put together by Harry & David’s chef Tim Keller and paired with the DanCin wines.

Out & About: Harry & David

And of course, we had a delicious pear dessert with Moose Munch ice cream. I loved the idea of infusing ice cream with something like caramel corn.

Out & About: Harry & David

On our last day, we headed out to Rising Sun Farms.

I was happy to learn that Harry & David not only make/bake and produce 80% of their products, they source the rest of their basket items from local companies. They’ve added wine to their line of products!

Out & About: Harry & David

Rising Sun Farms put together a nice little spread for us to sample some of their products.

Out & About: Harry & David

I found out that they produce my favorite sun dried tomato pesto cheese torta at Trader Joe’s.

Out & About: Harry & David

In the past, I’ve found that once I make a connection with a company and the people involved, my decision to use their products and services in the future feels right. I really like when I can put a face to the products I use and now Harry & David is the first place I’ll turn to when I need to send a basket/gift. I even used them this Mother’s Day!

I don’t often take blogging trips, but something was telling me that it would be an experience I wouldn’t forget. I definitely was not wrong. Thank you again, Harry & David. I had a truly amazing experience and can see why you’ve been in business for 80 years with all your hard work and innovation.

If you’d like to see more, check out these posts from our group:

The Reluctant Entertainer

Crazy for Crust

HeatherChristo

The Beeroness

Noble Pig

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  • Kati

    Wow, I would love to learn how to make a gift basket. This must have been a wonderful experience, the pictures look amazing. I just made gift basked for friends yesterday and realised that I bought way too much stuff and in the end I had to remove a few items so that the basked didn’t look overcrowded. Maybe you can share your learnings some time or another.

    http://blackwhitevivid.com

  • Emily @ Life on Food

    What a fun trip! The landscape is beautiful. I love the Harry and David boxes too. I always save them.

  • Claire @Lemon Jelly Cake

    Oh this looks SO fun! Thank you for sharing your trip with us. :) My mother ordered pears from Harry & David one year for Christmas and they were amazing, unlike any other pears I’ve ever eaten! Now I really want some more, haha.

  • 4k

    I love Harry and David! Their boxes are beautiful. I have one in my kitchen as we speak. When I was a child, my mother would buy a jar of this or that from Harry and David and tell me “We are only buying ONE jar of this, so you’d better learn how to knock it off.” We were only allowed to eat it for taste tests. Some of my best knock-off skills came from Harry and David products! ha ha

  • Allyn

    They ruined me on pears forever. No one has pears as good as theirs (rhyme!)

  • Jackie {The Beeroness}

    That was such a great trip! and I agree, Sandy did a great job organizing, a blogger should always be in charge of a press trip, turns out so much better!

  • Kate

    Wow! What an incredible trip! As always, your photos look gorgeous! Now I can’t stop looking at Harry & David’s website!

  • Sarah

    The swirl effect when painting the white chocolate is beautiful! I hope you come up the swirls again!

  • Amy @ Thoroughly Nourished Life

    This sounds like such an amazing trip Tracy! I love it when we can see ‘behind the scenes’ and get to know who is making the products that we buy. I definitely feel better if I can make a connection too.
    Although we don’t have Harry and David here in Australia, I do love a good gift basket :)
    Also, now going to have to try my hand at colouring some white chocolate and painting some molds with it.
    Glad you had a great time. Thanks for sharing Tracy :)

    • Tracy

      It definitely makes a difference to know where a product comes from! Good luck with your chocolate decorations. You’re gonna love playing around with it.

  • Aimee Mulligan

    What an awesome trip! You are a great story-teller! I felt like I was there with you. Incredible trip girl.:)

  • Catherine McCord

    What a fabulous trip! To this day, when I get a gift from Harry and David, I’m overjoyed!! Lucky lucky girls and Harry and David for having you beauties!

  • Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and Health

    i have always enjoyed H & D…thanks for sharing this with us.

  • Laura

    LOVE this post! Made me want to try all Harry & David’s products. Yay!

  • Hilary

    Thanks for sharing your amazing trip with us, Tracy! I’ve always loved receiving Harry and David baskets (the moose crunch, yes) and it’s so cool to see all this behind the scenes! Loved it!! I now want to buy chocolate molds and paint little chocolates!!

  • tara

    Whaaaaa?!?! That sounds like SO MUCH FUN! I love gift cards and baskets! I’m so jealous you got to make your own basket and chocolate eggs! That sounds like heaven. So jealous, what a fun trip!

  • Lizy Tish

    I love H&D! I love Love LOVE their pears. I love their gift towers. This looked like the most awesome trip ever. All the wonderful experiences and hands-on stuff and tasting everything. Thanks for showing us!

  • Christine

    Thank you for sharing your experience at Harry & David! I’ve been with this company since 2004 and I love the quality of their products and how the the tradition of Harry and David continues to thrive through their employees. This is a great blog that is very informative and interactive as well. Happy Holidays and hope you continue to enjoy all that Harry and David has to offer!

    • Tracy

      Thanks Christine! I order from Harry & David every holiday season now after my visit! Being there and making my own gift basket sealed the deal! Happy Holidays!

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