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A visit to the Ethel M Chocolate Factory

Ethel M Chocolate Factory Building
It’s not Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, but until they open their doors, the Ethel M Chocolate Factory is more than good enough for me. Ethel M’s is located in Henderson, Nevada, just outside of Las Vegas. The building is easy to find, with a few signs to help guide you into the parking lot. It’s a lot bigger than it looks from the outside, but since you’re in the desert you probably won’t waste any time getting from your car to the air conditioned building across the lot.

Ethel M was started by the head of M&M Mars, who – as the story goes – was bored with retirement and wanted to get back to his roots of producing high quality, handmade chocolates. It was started in 1978, named after the mother of the founder of the company, and has been around ever since. The chocolate always had a really high quality, homey feel to it and, for years, had low prices to match. The company relaunched as Ethel’s Chocolate (although they still go by Ethel M), introduced some higher end chocolates and raised their prices a bit. I have always been a fan of Ethel M and didn’t love the price hike, but the chocolates are still definitely worth the price when I’ve got a craving for them – or happen to be in the neighborhood of their chocolate factory outside of Vegas!

Chocolate Factory Tour starting point

When you walk in, the first thing you’ll notice is the M&M World gift shop. You’ve got to cross it to get to the starting point of their free chocolate factory tour. The tour is a short, well-laid out walk-through of the history of the company and the rooms where the chocolates are made, molded and packaged. It’s hard to tell from the outside, but the factory is actually huge – over 114,000 square feet!

Ethel M Hallway

Mixing bowls at Ethel M

The day I visited, they were molding white chocolate. This guy was pouring tempered chocolate into a machine that pumped the chocolate into waiting molds. The filled molds were carried on a conveyor belt through a cooling chamber, that allowed them to set up firmly without loosing any of their shine.
Pouring white chocolate

White Chocolate in molds

The best part of the tour is at the end, where you get to have a few free samples of chocolate! They usually sample whatever chocolates they are currently producing (the ones you saw in the previous rooms), in addition to their signature pecan brittle (my favorite!). The brittle is very crisp, but also very tender, and it has a fantastic buttery, nutty, sweet-salty flavor to it. It’s a must-try if you like pecans. The chocolates are excellent, too. The white chocolate has a really nice dairy flavor and isn’t too sweet, while the milk and dark chocolates are both very, very creamy and smooth.

Chocolate samples!

After the samples, you are let out in the company store, where you can pick your own assortment of chocolate from their well-stocked case or simply pick up a whole box of a favorite type. They don’t generally sample from the case, but if you end up buying a few boxes as gifts (which I did), the super-nice sales people will usually let you taste an extra piece of your choosing – if you ask nicely!

Ethel M Gift shop

My assortment, below, contained pecan brittle, dark chocolate coconut delights, peanut butter peanuts, lemon meringues, white chocolate strawberry cheesecake truffles and key lime truffles. They do lots of mail order, but if you are taking your chocolates to-go, they’ll pack them in a bag with a few ice packs to keep the chocolates from melting in the hot desert sun on your way home.

Ethel's Chocolate Box

Ethel M Chocolates

Ethel M Chocolate Factory
One Sunset Way
Henderson, NV 89014

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  • MB
    August 8, 2010

    Oh YUM! I love chocolate. But live in the Midwest, therefore, no chocolate factory tours. 🙁

    That’s a blessing in disguise.

  • Joy
    August 8, 2010

    What a great visit. I would love to go there one day.

  • I go to Vegas a few times a year and have been meaning to go there. I will be putting it on my list of things to do for my next trip! Thanks

  • Melissa S.
    August 9, 2010

    Nice! Wouldn’t you know that that place is only a 5 min. drive from my house and I still have never been there! I have been wanting to go, especially since we were driving by during last Christmas time and the gardens behind the factory were all light up beautifully! I think taking a trip there in the near future is in order 🙂

  • x3FLO
    August 9, 2010

    I totally want to visit a chocolate factory now!

    sounds yummy.

  • Alex
    August 9, 2010

    Thanks for sharing this – I didn’t realize their factory is so close to Las Vegas, and that you can tour it for free!

    I definitely plan on visiting and taking a tour next time when I go to Las Vegas later this year.

  • Cocoazilla
    August 9, 2010

    I went to Ethel M back in 1999- it doesn’t look like it’s changed much- one of my favorite parts was the cactus garden outside, even though that’s not chocolate related!

  • beth
    August 10, 2010

    wow, i am glad they still do this tour! I grew up in las vegas and i believe in the 3rd grade i went on this tour. there was also a marshmallow factory, ocean spray plant, and anderson dairy! glad you enjoyed. and ethel m’s is one of my favorites – i always bring a box if i am visiting someone from out of town.

  • Jane
    August 10, 2010

    How fun to see the factory! I love having layovers in Las Vegas so I can visit the Ethel M’s store at the airport. 🙂

  • Becky
    August 11, 2010

    When we visited Las Vegas about 15 years ago we stumbled upon this Factory tour because that is my favorite thing to do home and while traveling!
    We also visted the marshmallow factory that was close by but I think is now gone and the Ocean Spray plant!
    Fun, fun, fun!

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