Tillamook Cheese Factory - As you might guess, a cheese factory in Tillamook, Oregon. It has been made into a major tourist attraction by the Tillamook Cheese company. There seems to be a magic force which ensures that any trip anyone takes to the Oregon coast with children somehow ends up at the factory.

There is an elevated walkway above the factory floor with enormous windows on either side, giving visitors a first-hand look at the machinery and people creating the cheese. Impressive metal vats and gleaming pipes bristling with gauges and levers cover one side of the floor. On the other side is the packaging area, where huge blocks of cheese are trimmed and cut down into sizes you find at the grocery store and vacuum packed in plastic. As you continue along the walkway, you are greeted by video monitors, explaining each step of the cheese manufacturing and packaging processes in excruciating detail. Interactive kiosks lure some kids away to explain the importance of dairy products, and cases with displays of antique dairy equipment attract others.

Despite all this, the main attraction seems to be the free cheese samples that are given away at the end of the tour. Whenever someone is trying to convince you to go to the cheese factory, they always bring up these samples. Most of the times I have visited the factory, my visit has hinged upon these few measly cubic centimeters of cheese. They really are nothing special, most people probably have all but one in their refrigerators at home and could go have them whenever they wanted. There are only about 4 kinds of cheese available each day, with the sole unique one being the so-called squeaky cheese or cheese curd. The others are just your standard cheddar, colby, sharp cheddar, and sometimes pepper jack.

Nevertheless, the samples seem to be the reason that people keep coming back. With a miniscule investment of 30-40 cheeses like you would buy in the supermarket (wild guess as to quantity), the factory manages to bring in gobs of hungry Oregonians with their whining kids on the way to the beach. Daddy, can't we pleeeeeeease get some ice cream? They come for the free samples, but they stay for the ice cream, the gift shop, the restaurant, and the cheese shop. Really quite a brilliant business plan.

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