I organized a homeschool field trip to tour Frito Lay Headquarters in Plano. It is not a manufacturing plant but the real headquarters building for their North America business. It is always fun going behind the scenes and learning more about companies like Frito Lay that we are all so familiar with.
Back in the 1930s, Herman Lay began his potato chip business and C.E. Doolin started his Frito Company. They worked closely with each other over the years and helped each other's businesses. In 1961, they merged to form Frito Lay.
This was Herman Lay's own truck that he first drove around selling his bags of chips for 5 cents each.
About 45 homeschool parents and children came along on the tour so they divided us up into 3 groups that rotated between activities. The group we were in started with an educational discussion about the company. We learned that Frito Lay is the largest food brand in the world. They are located in 60 countries and Lays alone accounts for about 10 billion dollars in sales.
We learned all about how Lay's potato chips are made. We learned about the farms from which Frito Lay buys their potatoes. There are about 80 farms in 27 states. They go through about 8 million pounds of potatoes IN A DAY!! That's about 200 truck loads per day.
We learned that potatoes are about 80% water so it takes about 5 pounds of potatoes to make just one pound of potato chips. I was interested to learn that the machine that slices the potatoes into chip size pieces has to have the blades sharpened about every 2 hours. The sliced potatoes should be rinsed before frying to remove the excess starch.
We learned that there are different flavors available in different regions of the world based on their flavor preferences such as Ketchup, Seaweed, Shrimp, and Caviar flavors!
Next we took a tour of Headquarters. The 240 acres of property was purchased from Ross Perot in 1993. When the building was first built, it was in a remote area so the company provided amenities on site for their employees such as a dry cleaners, salon, fitness center, etc.
Frito Lay is involved in their community. They have new outreach programs every month to help organizations in the area. This month they are holding a craft supply drive for patients at Children's Medical Center.
We learned about the natural settings and wildlife found on the property. There are walking trails and three lakes on the property. The kids enjoyed watching the fish and turtles.
In the Research and Development building, we learned that Frito Lay has an amazing number of chefs and food scientists on staff to continually experiment with new product ideas.
This is one of their Flavor Kitchens where they work on new product ideas. What a fun job that would be!
We found the impressive wall of Frito Lay patents. These are patents for products as well as manufacturing processes.
Although the Headquarters site is not a manufacturing plant, they do have a small manufacturing area that is used for Research and Development purposes. We got to watch pale Cheetos come out of a machine before getting its orange coating!
We learned about the materials used in packaging and learned about the extensive quality assurance testing that Frito Lay performs.
Finally, we made it to the third activity which was making our own chip bags!! It was the best part of the day :)
The kids got to design their own packaging then pick the kinds of chips that went into their bag. A mixture of all different flavors for Rachel, please.
Once their bag was full of chips, they got to control the heat seal machine that sealed their bags.
Nicholas and his Manta Ray chips.
Rachel and her bag personalized with her initials.
Chips with friends. What could be better?
I'd say this field trip was a huge success! The kids learned about food science and got to go behind the scenes of the largest food brand in the world PLUS they made their own bag of chips. What fun!
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