It’s like visiting Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory–only better

Our tour of a snack-food plant in Cavite was a dream come true

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THE MAGALONAS. Pia, Elmo, Clara and Arkin. Photo by Jill Lejano

NOGOLDEN TICKET REQUIRED. Our Oishi tour group. Photo by Jill Lejano

It may have been every kid’s fantasy to be taken to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, but we had a different dream. We wanted to be taken to a crunch factory—potato chips, cheese snacks, every flavored crunchy and crispy snack imaginable.

(Tatin was so absorbed by this fantasy that she even bought an episode of “How It’s Made” featuring how potato chips were made.  It was the most fascinating documentary I have ever seen in my life, she says.)

SOME of the many snacks Oishi has to offer. Photo by Jill Lejano

So, when we were given the chance to visit Oishi’s crunch lab with members of Oishi’s Team O (see related story), we knew we had to be there.  After all, we were huge fans of Oishi—we love the classic prawn crackers, Kirei, their gourmet potato chips, Pillows and Cracklings. We couldn’t wait to start munching.

We woke up bright and early on a Saturday and hit the road. We arrived in the plant in Cavite and were ushered into a room where Shera Tiu, Liwayway Marketing Corporation’s VP for marketing, told us about the brand’s rich history.

“Pinoys love snacks, we snack more than our neighbors,” she said.

ELMO samples freshly made chips at the Oishi plant. Photo by Jill Lejano

Liwayway Marketing Corp., the company behind Oishi, started in 1946 by producing gawgaw.

Thirty-eight years later, the company has expanded tremendously, producing quality snacks not just for the Philippines but a number of other countries including China, Vietnam, Guam, Korea, Myanmar, Thailand and Taiwan.

And that day, we would get the chance to see how they were made.

STILLWARM. Potato Fries in different flavors. Photo by Jill Lejano

We entered the facility with our assigned guide, plant manager Desmond Cheng. He told us about one of the rules for the workers in Oishi-land: snacking on the food being made was strictly prohibited. We knew right away that we wouldn’t last a day working there.

We wondered—where do the workers find the will power to resist swiping a Pillow or 12? We may not make it as production line workers, but we did volunteer to be quality control tasters.

First we watched how Crispy Patata chips were made. The best part of the tour? Getting to taste Crispy Patata chips so fresh that they were still warm. Crispy Patata became Tatin’s new favorite Oishi snack. The lightly salted potato crisps’ thin, delicate texture lets the flavor come out with every bite.

DESMOND Cheng, Oishi’s plant manager. Photo by Jill Lejano

Every fascinating stop was the same—Oishi Prawn Crackers, Potato Fries, Bread Pan (which we are obsessed with), Porky Pops—we watched how they were made and then got to taste them super fresh.

We also watched how the ready-to-drink bottles were prepared to be filled with Oishi’s delicious drinks. It was cool to see those tiny capsules transform into the bottles we drink our favorite flavor of Smart C+ from.

And as we entered different parts of the plant, we made pit stops at the numerous “O, Wow” boxes that had been set up, filling the giant Oishi bags we had been given at the start of the tour with snacks and goodies. (At one of the stops, we were given bags of delicious marshmallows which Oishi sells abroad. Please, please, Oishi, start selling them here. We miss them so.)

Our trip to the Oishi plant was better than a visit Willy Wonka’s factory—we had fun with Desmond and Team O, we snacked like crazy and no one fell into a chocolate fountain.

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