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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Caring for Kids Campaign Totals (and our Ford Fiesta Raffle winner!)

Our 32nd annual Caring for Kids campaign concluded last week, and we’re excited to announce that we raised $341,365 for 14 local children’s hospitals! This is our third-highest total in campaign history, and it brings our grand total to over $7.5 million raised since 1979.

First and foremost, we want to thank our dedicated team members and guests for their contributions of time, money, and hard work in making Caring for Kids a success year after year. Without you, this campaign wouldn’t be possible.

We’d also like to extend a big ‘Thank You’ to our generous partners, especially The Neighborhood Ford Store. Their donation of a 2011 Ford Fiesta SES allowed us to raise over $120,000 through raffle ticket sales. And one lucky guest – John Springer from Johnstown, PA – got a special holiday surprise when his winning ticket was drawn by a patient at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh UPMC. Congratulations, John! John purchased his ticket at our Westmont location in Johnstown.

Other partners that have made significant contributions to our campaign include Sheetz, Inc.; Nestle Professional Vitality, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, KDKA Radio, and KDKA-TV.

The following hospitals benefitted from this year’s campaign:
  • Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh UPMC
  • West Virginia University Children’s Hospital
  • St. Vincent Health System
  • Akron Children’s Hospital of the Mahoning Valley
  • Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Children’s Hospital
  • Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital
  • Indiana Regional Medical Center
  • DuBois Regional Medical Center
  • Columbus Children’s Hospital Foundation
  • Kennedy Krieger Children’s Hospital
  • St. Christopher’s Hospital
  • Children’s Medical Center of Akron
  • Johns Hopkins Children’s Center
  • Children’s Hospital Foundation of Philadelphia
Thanks again to everyone who contributed to Caring for Kids. You are truly making a difference in our communities!

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Got Milk? Part 2 - Turner Dairy Farms

Last week, I told you about my visit with Lone Oak Farms, one of the farms that supplies Turner’s Dairy with raw milk (click here to read that post). But you’re probably wondering what happens to the milk between the farm and the supermarket. That’s where Turner’s comes in. But first, a little background on the company.

The dairy was founded in 1930 (80 years ago!) by Chuck’s grandfather, Charles Turner. Since then, it has continued to expand and thrive, thanks in large part to the company’s commitment to extremely high standards. In fact, Turner’s milk regularly wins awards at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, WI – where they compete with much larger dairies in the heart of dairy country!

The first thing Chuck pointed out on our tour was Turner’s testing labs, where all of their milk is tested for bacteria as it comes into the facility (as raw milk), and as it leaves to be distributed to customers. Turner’s adheres to even stricter standards than what’s required by the FDA, ensuring that their customers receive the highest-quality milk.

As we left the lab, Chuck pointed out two enormous silos (below). After the raw milk arrives and passes bacterial testing, it is pumped into these silos, which each hold 50,000 gallons of milk. From there, we entered the processing facility, which houses room upon room filled with a maze of stainless steel pipes that transport the milk as it’s processed.

Milk silos housing 50,000 gallons each

Turner’s milk is pasteurized and homogenized through an energy-efficient system that utilizes heat transfer to ensure that no energy is wasted. To be pasteurized, milk must be heated to 175 degrees, and held at that temperature for 20 seconds. After pasteurization, the milk is homogenized - a process which “explodes” the fat particles in milk so that the milk and the cream don’t separate when your milk’s sitting in your fridge.

A maze of pipes transports raw milk through the pasteurization and homogenization process

Next, Turner’s packaging room was a bustle of activity, with 4 separate systems working to bottle milk, iced tea, and juice. By far the busiest of these stations was the one that packed the milk into half pint-size cartons for use in schools. This station typically runs for 16 hours a day, 6 days a week. It was really cool to see the flattened cartons be folded, filled, sealed, and stamped in a matter of seconds as they made their way down the winding conveyor belt. I also watched as bottles of various sizes were labeled, filled, and capped.

Cartons of 2% milk are folded, filled, and sealed in a few quick seconds

Gallons of milk are labeled, filled, and capped

Processed milk is then loaded onto Turner’s trucks, which typically cover 50 delivery routes every day. In all, it only takes 36-48 hours from the time Turner’s receives the raw milk to the time it’s delivered to their customers. That’s fresh!

My visit to Turner’s Dairy and Lone Oak Farms gave me a whole new appreciation for the milk that I enjoy every day. I take pride in knowing that Eat’n Park is not only using the highest-quality milk, but at the same time, we’re supporting local farmers by purchasing milk from Turner’s.

To learn more about Turner’s Dairy, visit their website at http://www.turnerdairy.net/

Until next time,
Jamie

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Got Milk? Part 1 - Lone Oak Farms

Christmas is fast approaching, and thousands of children will likely be leaving a glass of milk and a plate of cookies out to reinvigorate Santa on his long journey on Christmas Eve. That long-held tradition hasn’t changed much over the last century, with one exception: in most cases, that milk will have come from a grocery store rather than the family cow or a neighborhood dairy.

When you pick up that gallon of milk at the store, do you ever think about how it got there? I do, so I asked the kind folks at Turner Dairy Farms to enlighten me. Turner’s supplies Eat’n Park with many of our dairy products, including milk, half & half, egg nog, and more.

So how does milk get from the cow to Eat’n Park or your local grocery store? To answer that question, Chuck Turner and his team gave me a full-fledged tour of their family-owned operation, as well as that of one of the farmers who provides their milk.

Turner’s Dairy adheres to extremely high standards, and part of that includes knowing exactly where all of their milk comes from. Unlike many other dairies, Turner’s doesn’t purchase milk from a co-op. They work exclusively with 50 local farmers within a 70 mile radius of the dairy, and they hold those farmers to the same high standards. All of these farms supply Turner’s with rBGH/rBST-free milk. Turner’s inspectors visit with their farmers multiple times throughout the year to ensure quality and cleanliness standards and to verify that the cows supplying the milk are healthy and comfortable. One of those farmers is Chuck Carr of Lone Oak Farms.


The barn and silos at Lone Oak Farms.

Lone Oak Farms in Westmoreland County, PA has been one of Turner’s milk providers for over 50 years. Owned and operated by 4 generations of the Carr Family, Lone Oak supplies milk from their 180 Holstein cows. Chuck Carr gave me some insight into the milking process.

The cows at Lone Oak are milked twice a day, at 1 AM and again at 1 PM. The farm’s milking parlor is set up to milk 32 cows at a time. Each cow wears a transponder “necklace” that is registers the cow as she comes into the parlor. Once in place, each cow is fitted with the milking machine, and in 5-8 minutes, she’s done! In all, it takes the Carrs about 3 hours to get all of the cows through each milking.

One set of stalls in the milking parlor. Each side holds 16 cows.

Milking machine.

I wanted to know more about the animals, so Chuck explained: The Carrs raise Holsteins because out of all the breeds, they provide the best fluid milk. Some farms raise Jersey cows, which produce a richer milk with higher fat content that is better for cheese production. Holstein cows start producing milk around age 2, after the birth of their first calf. They typically produce milk until about 10 years of age, though most of the cows at Lone Oak are around age 6.

One of Lone Oak's Holstein cows

It’s surprising how regimented dairy farming has to be. The cows need to be milked every twelve hours, regardless of what else is going on at the farm. Turner’s picks up milk from Lone Oak every other day – and the farm can only store a little over 2 days worth of milk. That means that when “Snowmageddon” hit in February 2010, Chuck and his family had to clear not only the lane leading up to the farm, but also all of the local roads in between the farm and the area’s main road so that Turner’s trucks could get in to pick up the milk on time. All the while, the daily milkings and other tasks at the farm had to be carried on as usual. There’s no rest for the weary! But Chuck takes it all in stride, reciting one of his father’s favorite sayings: “Work, give milk, or get out!”

Our tour of Lone Oak gave me insight on how high-quality raw milk is produced. But what happens next? In my next post, read about how the raw milk makes it from the farm to your fridge.

Jamie

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Eat’n Park Takeout – Name that location!

Our latest series of commercials were filmed at locations around Pittsburgh, as our friend Ian answers the call of the wild: track down delicious Eat’n Park takeout!

You’ll probably get a laugh out of some of the unusual situations he encounters, but can you identify the locations he passes through along the way? If you think you can, then enter our “Name that location” contest!

Every couple of days, we’ll post a new scene from one of these commercials to our Facebook page. Take your best guess at where it was filmed, and you could win a $50 Eat’n Park gift card. Plus, everyone who participates will receive a coupon for 20% off Eat’n Park takeout.

So, check out the commercials below, then take a look at the mystery scene at the very bottom. We made the first scene an easy one. Check it out below, then click here to enter your guess. And don’t forget to “like” our Facebook page so that you’ll know when we post a new scene. Good luck!

Buster Loves Superburgers



A Very Unusual Bus Ride



Mad Dash



No Time For Romance



Now, here's the first mystery scene! Can you guess where this was filmed? Click here to submit your answer.

Contest ends December 26, 2010.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

12.6.2010 This Week's Caring for Kids Events at Eat'n Park

See how you can support our Caring for Kids Campaign at your local Eat'n Park!

Event dates and times are subject to change, so please call ahead if you are planning to attend. Need the number? Click here.

Monday, December 06, 2010
Library Road Spaghetti Dinner (5:00 PM - 10:00 PM)
State College Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Mentor Bowl for the Kids (7:00 PM - 9:00 PM)
Wheeling Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 8:00 PM)

Tuesday, December 07, 2010
Dormont Spaghetti Dinner (5:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Natrona Hgts. Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 7:00 PM)
Butler--New Castle Road Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 7:00 PM)
South Hills Tips for Tots (5:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Erie--Peach St. Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Belle Vernon Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Austintown Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 8:00 PM)

Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Avalon Tips for Tots (5:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
McKeesport Tips for Tots (4:30 PM - 7:30 PM)
Whitehall Tips for Tots (5:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Monongahela Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 9:00 PM)
Canonsburg Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Moon Twp.--Airport Tips for Tots (11:00 AM - 2:00 PM)
Moon Twp.--Airport Tips for Tots (5:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Hermitage Tips for Tots (5:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Washington--Mall Tips for Tots (2:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Indiana Tips for Tots (3:00 PM - 9:00 PM)

Thursday, December 09, 2010
Waterfront Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Waterfront CFK Kids Carnival (6:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Parma Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
McKnight-Southbound Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 7:00 PM)
Sewickley Tips for Tots (12:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Robinson Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Medina Tips for Tots (11:00 AM - 8:00 PM)

Friday, December 10, 2010
Franklin Park Benefit Concert (5:00 PM - 11:00 PM)
Johnstown Rodeo Round Up (10:00 AM - 10:00 PM)
Indiana Rodeo Round Up (All day)

Sunday, December 12, 2010
Library Road Smiley Idol (@ Warehouse Café in Bethel Park) (7:00 PM - 10:00 PM)
Monroeville Night at the Races (5:00 PM - 9:00 PM)
Latrobe Bowl-a-thon (4:30 PM - 8:00 PM)

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Eat'n Park Christmas Star Commercial - A Look Back

The Eat'n Park Christmas Star commercial has become a holiday classic, and we love it when our guests share their fond memories of the commercial with us.  This year, we decided to capture some of those sentiments on film.  Watch below as some of our guests and team members share what the commercial means to them.



And, of course, here's the original!



Can't get enough? Click here to see when the commercial will be airing on TV, and here to read the full story behind how this classic came to be.


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Holiday Bonus Cards at Eat’n Park – While Supplies Last!

Not sure what to buy for the friend who has everything? For your picky father-in-law? For the business associate who always saves the day? Eat’n Park gift cards are the perfect way to spread some holiday cheer – and treat yourself in the process!


While supplies last, you’ll get a FREE $5 bonus card with every $25 in Eat’n Park gift card purchases. It’s like a reward for being such a great gift-giver!

You’ll get one $5 bonus card for every $25 in gift card purchases, regardless of the denomination. So, if you buy five $5 cards, you’ll get one bonus card. Buy $100 worth of gift cards, and you’ll get four $5 bonus cards. You get the picture. Bonus cards are valid from January 1 through January 31, 2011, so you have a whole month to use them.

But here’s the catch : We only have a limited supply of bonus cards, and we can’t make substitutions. So when they’re gone, they’re gone! Stop in to your local Eat’n Park today to get yours, then relax – holiday gift-giving doesn’t get any easier than this!

Bonus cards are only available at Eat’n Park restaurant locations. This offer is not available with online gift card orders.
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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

New Choices for Kids at Eat’n Park

Since 1986, children at Eat’n Park have been enjoying a complimentary Smiley Cookie with every meal. It’s just one reason we’re known as the place for smiles!

Now, we’re excited to announce two new options for kids. In addition to the original Smiley Cookie, children 10 and under can now choose from a Mini Smiley Cookie or an apple at the end of their meal. These new options are part of our LifeSmiles initiative, which aims to help children and their families make healthy choices.

LifeSmiles builds in part on First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Campaign to decrease childhood obesity. Common goals of both programs are to provide access to healthy, affordable food and to increase physical activity. Through LifeSmiles, we’ll be investing $1 million and 20,000 volunteer hours over the next five years to support health and wellness initiatives aimed at families. For instance, in 2011, we’ll be partnering with the Pittsburgh Children’s Marathon as part of our commitment to promoting physical activity.

Of course, the principles behind LifeSmiles aren’t new to us. Over the last several years, we’ve made substantial commitments to promoting healthy lifestyles. LifeSmiles will enhance our existing programs like FarmSource, which since 2002 has allowed us to partner with the local agricultural and business community to provide our guests with fresh, wholesome foods; and Eat’n Smart, which gives our guests an easy way to identify menu items that meet their specific dietary requirements. Coupled with these programs, our investment in LifeSmiles will help us fulfill a critical need in our region by giving families the resources and the knowledge they need make healthy choices.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Eat'n Park Christmas Star Commercial & Air Dates - Watch It Live!

We first aired our Christmas Star commercial all the way back in 1982, and in the 28 years since, it has become a holiday classic.  We've heard from guests close to home and from halfway around the world that regardless of where they spend the holidays, this commercial holds a special place in their hearts.  The holiday season just wouldn't be the same without it.

Wondering how the commercial came to be? Click here to read the story of how it all started. 

Read on for a list of when the commercial will be airing live; check your local listings for times. If you just can't wait to see it on TV, click below to watch it now!

And from everyone here at Eat'n Park, Happy Holidays!



Local Television Air Dates

Clarksburg
  • WBOY - Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (Week of 11/22), Merry Madagascar (Week of 11/22), Kung Fu Panda Holiday (Week of 11/22), It's a Wonderful Life (Week of 12/20), Miracle on 34th Street (Week of 11/22), Taylor Swift Christmas Special (Week of 11/22), Christmas in Rockafeller Center (Week of 11/29)
  • WDTV - Thanksgiving Day Parade (Week of 11/22), Hallmark: November Christmas (Week of 11/22), The Flight before Christmas (Week of 12/6), Rudolf (Week of 11/29), Frosty the Snowman Returns (Week of 11/29, 12/6, 12/13), Yes, Virginia (Week of 12/13), Frosty the Snowman (Week of 12/13), Home for the Holidays (Week of 12/20)
 Cleveland
  •  WEWS - Charlie Brown Christmas (Week of 12/13), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Week of 11/29), Shrek the Halls (Week of 12/6)
  • WKYC - It's a Wonderful Life (Week of 12/20), Christmas at Rockerfeller Center (Week of 11/29), Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (Week of 11/22), Merry Madagascar / Kung Fu Panda (Week of 11/22)
  • WOIO - Thanksgiving Day Parade (Week of 11/22), Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer (Week of 11/29), Frosty the Snowman (Week of 12/6), Frosty Returns (Week of 12/13), The Flight before Christmas (Week of 12/6)
  • Food Network - Ace of Cakes, Holiday on Icing (Week of 12/13), Guy's Disney Holiday (Week of 12/20)
  • Hallmark - A Season for Miracles (Week of 12/13), Farewell Mr. Kringle (Week of 12/20), What I did for Love (Week of 12/20)
  • USA - Elf (Week of 12/6, 12/20)
Erie
  • WICU - Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (Week of 11/22), It's a Wonderful Life (Week of 12/20) Christmas at Rockerfeller Center (Week of 11/29), Merry Madagascar (Week of 11/22)
  • WJET - Santa Clause 2 (Week of 12/13), Santa Clause 3 (Week of 12/13), I want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown (Week of 12/13), Charlie Brown Christmas (Week of 12/6, 12/13), Shrek the Halls / Prep and Landing (Week of 12/6), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Week of 11/29)
  • WFXP - Glee Holiday Special (Week of 12/6), Holiday TV Moments (Week of 12/20)
  • WSEE - Home for the Holidays (Week of 12/20), Yes, Virginia (Week of 12/13), Frosty the Snowman (Week of 12/6)
Johnstown
  • WATM - Charlie Brown Christmas (Week of 12/13), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Week of 11/29), Shrek the Halls (Week of 12/6), Santa Claus is Coming To Town (Week of 11/29), The Santa Clause (Week of 12/13)
  • WJAC - Christmas at Rockerfeller Center (Week of 11/29), Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (Week of 11/22), Madagascar Christmas / Kung Fu Panda (Week of 11/22), It's a Wonderful Life (Week of 12/20)
  • WTAJ - Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer (Week of 11/29), Thanksgiving Day Parade (Week of 11/22), Frosty the Snowman / Frosty Returns (Week of 12/6)
Pittsburgh
  • KDKA - Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer (Week of 11/29), Thanksgiving Day Parade (Week of 11/22), Frosty the Snowman / Frosty Returns (Week of 12/13), Yes, Virginia (Week of 12/13)
  • WPGH - Glee - Holiday Episode (Week of 12/13)  
  • WPXI - It's a Wonderful Life (Week of 12/6), (Week of 12/20), Celebrate the Season Parade (Week of 11/22)
  • WTAE - How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Week of 11/29), Shrek the Halls (Week of 12/6), Santa Claus is Coming To Town (Week of 11/29), Charlie Brown Christmas (Week of 12/6, Week of 12/13), Prep and Landing (Week of 12/6)
  • Food Network - Giada Family Christmas (Week of 11/29), Barefoot in London (Holiday), (Week of 12/6)
  • Hallmark - Martha Stewart Christmas Special (Week of 11/29)
  • HGTV - White House Christmas (Week of 12/13), Sarah's Holiday Party (Week of 12/6), Christmas in Washington (Week of 12/13), A Christmas Story (Week of 12/13), Taylor Swift Christmas Special (Week of 11/22), It's a Wonderful Life (Week of 12/6, 12/20), Christmas at Rockerfeller Center (Week of 11/29)
  • TNT - Christmas in Washington (Week of 12/13), A Christmas Story (Week of 12/13)
Wheeling 
  • WTOV - Taylor Swift Christmas Special (Week of 11/22), It's a Wonderful Life (Week of 12/6, 12/20), Christmas at Rockerfeller Center (Week of 11/29), Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (Week of 11/22), Miracle on 34th Street (Week of 11/22)
  • ETRF - TVs Greatest Holiday Moments (Week of 11/22), Glee Holiday Special (Week of 12/13)
  • GTRF - How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Week of 11/29), CMA Country Christmas Concert (Week of 11/29), The Chronicles of Narnia (Week of 12/6), A Charlie Brown Christmas (Week of 12/6, 12/13), A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (Week of 11/22), Shrek the Halls (Week of 12/6), Mariah Carey Christmas Special (Week of 12/13)
  • WTRF - Frosty the Snowman (Week of 12/6, 12/13), Frosty Returns (Week of 12/13), Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer (Week of 11/29), Home for the Holidays (Week of 12/20)
  • Food Network - Dear Food Network (Week of 11/22, 12/6), Giada Family Christmas (Week of 11/29), Paula's Cookie Swap (Week of 12/6), Guy's Big Bite Thanksgiving (Week of 12/13), Ace of Cakes Holiday on Icing (Week of 12/20)
  • HGTV - 30 Decorating Hits and Misses (Week of 11/22), Genevieve's Holiday Home (Week of 11/22), Holiday Battle on the Block (Week of 11/22, 11/29, 12/13)  
  • TLC - Invasion of the Christmas Lights (Week of 11/29)
Youngstown
  • WFMJ - Christmas at Rockerfeller Center (Week of 11/29), It's a Wonderful Life (Week of 12/20), Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (Week of 11/22), Miracle on 34th Street (Week of 11/22)
  • WKBN - Thanksgiving Day Parade (Week of 11/22), Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer (Week of 11/29), Frosty the Snowman (Week of 12/6), Yes, Virginia (Week of 12/13), Frosty Returns (Week of 12/13), 12th Annual Home for the Holidays (Week of 12/20)
  • WYTV - Nutcracker (Week of 12/6), The Holiday Season on Ice (Week of 12/20), Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (Week of 11/22), Charlie Brown Christmas (Week of 12/6), The Santa Clause 2 (Week of 12/13), I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown (Week of 12/13)
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Monday, November 29, 2010

11.29.2010 This Week's Caring for Kids Events at Eat'n Park

See how you can support our Caring for Kids Campaign at your local Eat'n Park!

Event dates and times are subject to change, so please call ahead if you are planning to attend. Need the number? Click here.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Dormont Tips for Tots (5:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Indiana Breakfast with Santa (9:00 AM - 11:00 AM)
Grove City Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 8:00 PM)

Wednesday, December 01, 2010
Waterfront Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Willoughby Tips for Tots (5:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Bridgeville Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 7:00 PM)
Butler--Clearview Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 7:00 PM)
South Hills Tips for Tots (5:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
New Stanton Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 9:00 PM)
Moon Twp/Airport Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 7:00 PM)
Somerset Tips for Tots (5:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Morgantown Tips for Tots (5:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Weirton Flea Market (11:00 AM - 8:00 PM)
Weirton Tips for Tots (11:00 AM - 8:00 PM)
Warren Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Mentor Tips for Tots (5:00 PM - 8:00 PM)

Thursday, December 02, 2010
Chippewa Tips for Tots (5:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Uniontown Tips for Tots (5:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
New Kensington Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 7:00 PM)
Streetsboro Tips for Tots (5:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Johnstown Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Cranberry Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Erie--12th Street Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Latrobe Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Chapel Hill Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Center Twp. Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Clarion Tips for Tots (All Day)
St. Clairsville Tips for Tots (11:00 AM - 8:00 PM)

Friday, December 03, 2010
N. Huntingdon Night at the Races (7:00 PM - 11:00 PM)

Saturday, December 04, 2010
Monongahela Holiday Toy Bash (3:00 PM - 11:00 PM)
Latrobe Rodeo Round Up (All Day)
DuBois Tips for Tots (11:00 AM - 8:00 PM)

Sunday, December 05, 2010
Boardman "Making Dreams Come True" Bowling Triathalon (6:00 PM - 11:00 PM)
Center Twp. Bowling for Tots (6:00 PM - 8:00 PM)

Monday, December 06, 2010
Whitehall Tips for Tots (5:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Library Road Spaghetti Dinner (5:00 PM - 10:00 PM)
State College Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Grove City Bingo Night (7:00 PM - 10:00 PM)
Mentor Bowl for the Kids (7:00 PM - 9:00 PM)
Wheeling Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 8:00 PM)

Tuesday, December 07, 2010
Dormont Spaghetti Dinner (5:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Natrona Hgts. Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 7:00 PM)
Butler--New Castle Road Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 7:00 PM)
Moon Twp./Airport Pictures with Santa (4:00 PM - 7:00 PM)
Erie--Peach Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Belle Vernon Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Austintown Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 8:00 PM)

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Black Friday Shoppers' Buffets at Eat'n Park (and Free Latte Coupon!)

Planning to wake before dawn (or in some cases, never go to sleep at all) on the day after Thanksgiving so you'll have first dibs on all of those doorbuster bargains? Well, let us get your motor running!

Stop in to Eat'n Park to fuel up before your spree, or come in afterward to rest your tired feet (and your wallet!).  At only $6.99, our Shoppers' Buffet may be the best deal you'll find all day! 

And to spice it up even more, print the coupon below for a FREE 12 oz. latte with any purchase! This coupon is valid on Friday, November 26, 2010 only.  Click here to print yours now.


Let's recap: A delicious, bountiful buffet for only $6.99, PLUS a free latte? Yep, sounds like a doorbuster to us!

Check the list below to find out when the Shoppers' Buffet will be available at your local Eat'n Park.  Unlisted locations will not be offering a Shoppers' Buffet, but will be accepting the free latte coupon.

Pennsylvania:
Altoona: 5:00 AM - 11:30 AM
Avalon: 7:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Belle Vernon: 5:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Bridgeville: 7:00 AM - 10:30 AM
Butler (Clearview): 5:00 AM - 10:30 AM
Butler (New Castle Road): 5:00 AM - 10:30 AM
Center Twp.: 5:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Chippewa: 5:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Clarion: 5:00 AM - 10:30 AM
Cranberry (Marshall Twp): 5:30 AM - 11:00 AM
Dormont: 7:00 AM - 10:30 AM
Dubois: 5:00 AM - 11:30 AM
Erie (Peach Street): 5:00 AM - 10:30 AM
Erie (West 12th St.): 5:00 AM - 10:30 AM
Etna: 7:30 AM - 11:00 AM
Franklin: 5:00 AM - 10:30 AM
Greensburg: 5:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Grove City: MIDNIGHT - 10:30 AM
Hampton Twp.: 6:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Hermitage: 5:00 AM - 10:30 AM
Indiana: 5:00 AM - 11:30 AM
Johnstown: 5:30 AM - 11:00 AM
Latrobe: 5:00 AM - 11:30 AM
Library Road: 6:30 AM - 10:30 AM
McKees Rocks: 6:00 AM-11:00 AM
McKnight (Northbound): 5:00 AM - 11:30 AM
McKnight (Southbound): 5:30 AM - 10:30 AM
Monroeville: 5:00 AM - 11:30 AM
Moon Twp.: 6:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Murrysville: 7:00 AM - 11:30 AM
N. Huntingdon: 6:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Natrona Hts.: 7:30 AM - 10:30 AM
North Versailles: 6:00 AM - 10:30 AM
Penn Hills: 7:30 AM - 10:30 AM
Pittsburgh Mills: 4:00 AM - 10:30 AM
Robinson: 5:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Sewickley: 7:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Somerset: 5:00 AM-11:00 AM
South Hills: 5:00 AM- 11:30 AM
Squirrel Hill: (Wednesday night) Midnight - 4:00 AM
State College: 5:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Uniontown: 5:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Washington (Mall): 5:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Washington (West Chestnut): 7:30 AM - 11:00 AM
Waterfront: 5:00 AM-11:00 AM
Waterworks: 5:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Westmont: 7:30 AM - 11:00 AM
Whitehall: 6:00 AM - 10:30 AM

Ohio
Austintown: 6:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Chapel Hill: 5:00 AM - NOON
Elyria: 5:00 AM - NOON
Medina: 5:00 AM - NOON
Mentor: 6:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Parma: 6:30 AM - 11:00 AM
St. Clairsville: 5:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Steubenville: 6:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Streetsboro: 6:30 AM - 11:00 AM
Warren: 6:00 AM - 10:30 AM
Willoughby: 6:30 AM - 11:00 AM

West Virginia
Clarksburg, WV: 5:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Weirton, WV: 6:00 AM - 11:00 PM
Wheeling Highlands: 4:30 AM - 11:00 AM
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Monday, November 22, 2010

11.22.2010 This Week's Caring for Kids Events at Eat'n Park

See how you can support our Caring for Kids Campaign at your local Eat'n Park!

Event dates and times are subject to change, so please call ahead if you are planning to attend. Need the number? Click here.

Monday, November 22, 2010
Uniontown Guitar Hero Tournament (8:00 PM - 11:00 PM)
Greensburg Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
South Hills Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 7:00 PM)
Altoona Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 7:00 PM)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Uniontown Laurel Highlands High School Change Drive (5:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
N. Huntington Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 8:00 PM)

Friday, November 26, 2010
Monongahela Rodeo Round Up Weekend (Through Sunday)
Etna Rodeo Round Up (Through Sunday)
North Versailles Rodeo Round Up (All day Friday)

Saturday, November 27, 2010 
Natrona Hgts. Night at the Races (7:00 PM)
Clarksburg Yardsale (8:00 AM - 6:00 PM)
Chapel Hill Rodeo Round Up (All day)
Center Twp. Benefit Show (8:00 AM - 10:00 PM)
Warren Craft Table (9:00 AM - 4:00 PM)

Sunday, November 28, 2010 
Clarksburg Yardsale (8:00 AM - 4:00 PM)
DuBois Craft Sale (11:00 AM - 8:00 PM)

Monday, November 29, 2010
Indiana Breakfast with Santa (8:00 AM - 11:00 AM)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 
Dormont Tips for Tots (5:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Indiana Breakfast with Santa (9:00 AM - 11:00 AM)
Grove City Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 8:00 PM)

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

LifeSmiles at Eat'n Park: Empowering families to make healthy choices

Earlier today, we announced a new initiative that we’ll be using to empower our youngest guests and their parents to make healthier choices. This program, called LifeSmiles, is based in part on First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Campaign to decrease childhood obesity. Common goals of both programs are to provide access to healthy, affordable food and to increase physical activity.

Through LifeSmiles, we’ll be investing $1 million and 20,000 volunteer hours over the next five years to support health and wellness initiatives aimed at families. For instance, in 2011, we’ll be partnering with the Pittsburgh Children’s Marathon as part of our commitment to promoting physical activity.

Starting next month, we’re also going to offer healthier alternatives to our iconic Smiley Cookie, which we’ve been serving free after every kids’ meal since 1986. Beginning on December 1, children 10 and under will have their choice of a complimentary original Smiley Cookie, a mini Smiley Cookie, or an apple after their meal.

Of course, the principles behind LifeSmiles aren’t new to us. Over the last several years, we’ve made substantial commitments to promoting healthy lifestyles. LifeSmiles will enhance our existing programs like FarmSource, which since 2002 has allowed us to partner with the local agricultural and business community to provide our guests with fresh, wholesome foods; and Eat’n Smart, which gives our guests an easy way to identify menu items that meet their specific dietary requirements. Coupled with these programs, our investment in LifeSmiles will help us fulfill a critical need in our region by giving families the resources and the knowledge they need make healthier choices.

Chef Regis Holden helped us kick off the program today at Pittsburgh Faison Primary School in Homewood, PA, as he and members of Grow Pittsburgh worked with third graders to make stone soup. In the process, students learned fun, unique ways to prepare healthy food.

To make your own stone soup, check out Regis' recipe below. Want to know the story behind this unique meal? Click here.

Stone Soup
Serves a village (approx. 40)

Ingredients:
  • Smooth stones of your choice, washed and scrubbed clean
  • 1 Gallon hot water in a large soup cauldron
  • 8 oz mirepoix soup base (or soup broth/flavoring of your choice)
  • ½ Tbsp. Olive oil
  • ½ Tbsp. Minced garlic
  • 64 oz. Marinara sauce
  • 6 oz. Onions, slivered
  • 6 oz. Celery, sliced
  • 6 oz. Carrots, sliced
  • 6 oz. Cauliflower florets
  • 6 oz. Zucchini, quartered
  • 6 oz. Yellow squash, quartered and sliced
  • 6 oz. Green beans, cut into ½” pieces
  • 8 oz. Bowtie Pasta, cooked

Directions:
  • Add stones to cauldron of water. Bring to a boil.
  • Wash, peel, and cut vegetables.
  • Heat oil in a separate pan on the stove top. Add onions, celery, carrots, cauliflower, and garlic. Stir constantly until onions begin to cook.
  • Dissolve the mirepoix/broth in the boiling water in the soup cauldron.
  • Add the marinara sauce.
  • Cover pot and reduce to a simmer.
  • Add remaining vegetables and cook until vegetables lose their firmness, about 30 minutes.
  • Add cooked pasta just before serving.
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Monday, November 15, 2010

11.15.2010 This Week's Caring for Kids Events at Eat'n Park

See how you can support our Caring for Kids Campaign at your local Eat'n Park!

Event dates and times are subject to change, so please call ahead if you are planning to attend. Need the number? Click here.

Monday, November 15, 2010
Butler (New Castle Road) Bowling (4:00 PM - 6:00 PM)
Grove City Bingo Night (7:00 PM - 10:00 PM)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Uniontown High School Change Drive (5:00 PM - 8:00PM)
State College Volleyball Showdown (6:00 PM - 8:00 PM)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Warren Pictures with Smiley (4:00 PM - 7:00 PM)

Thursday, November 18, 2010
Boardman Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Banksville Tips for Tots (5:30 PM - 7:30 PM)
Johnstown Bowl-a-thon (2:00 PM - 5:00 PM)
Center Twp. Book Signing with Smiley (5:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Elyria Tips for Tots (5:00 PM - 8:00 PM)

Friday, November 19, 2010
Franklin Tips for Tots 4:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Johnstown Rodeo Round Up 10:00 AM - 10:00 PM)
Clarksburg Karaoke Contest  (Held at Mojo's in Bridgeport, WV) 9:00 PM - 11:00 PM)

Saturday, November 20, 2010
Erie (Peach St.) Rodeo Round-Up (11:00 AM - 8:00 PM)
Latrobe Craft Show (10:00 AM - 4:00 PM)

Sunday, November 21, 2010
Library Road Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 7:00 PM)

Monday, November 22, 2010
Uniontown Guitar Hero Tournament (8:00 PM - 11:00 PM)
Greensburg Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
South Hills Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 7:00 PM)
Altoona Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 7:00 PM)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Uniontown Laurel Highlands High School Change Drive (5:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
N. Huntington Tips for Tots (4:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

11.9.2010 This Week's Caring for Kids Events at Eat'n Park

We kicked off our 32nd annual Caring for Kids campaign less than a week ago, and we're already in full swing! How can you help raise money for the kids? Well, you can enter to win a brand-new 2011 Ford Fiesta by purchasing a raffle ticket for just $2.  Or, pick up one of our Smiley ornaments or Smiley magnets at any Eat'n Park location. 

Finally, if you'll be in the area, stop by one of the locations below to participate in one of these cool fundraising events.

Event dates and times are subject to change, so please call ahead if you are planning to attend. Need the number? Click here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010
North Huntington 24 Hour Campout (4:00 PM - 4:00 PM)

Thursday, November 11, 2010
Westmont Tips for Tots (4:30 PM - 7:30 PM)
North Versailles Tips for Tots (5:00 PM - 8:00 PM)

Saturday, November 13, 2010
Waterfront Car Cruise and Flea Market (all day)
Whitehall Flea Market (7:00 AM - 1:00 PM)
Hermitage Wal-mart Sale (1:00 AM - 2:00 PM)
Latrobe Rodeo Round Up (all day)

Sunday, November 14, 2010
Boardman Aut Mori Grotto Clowns (3:00 PM - 7:00 PM)
New Stanton Cash Bash (12:00 PM - 5:00 PM)

Monday, November 15, 2010
Butler (New Castle Road) Bowling (4:00 PM - 6:00 PM)
New Kensington Bowling (4:00 PM - 6:00 PM)
DuBois Christmas Concert (7:00 PM - 10:00 PM)
Grove City Bingo Night (7:00 PM - 10:00 PM)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Uniontown Uniontown HS Change Drive (5:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
State College Volleyball Showdown (6:00 PM - 8:00 PM)

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Eat’n Park is your holiday pie and bakery headquarters!

Who wants the mess and hard work of baking over the holidays? Well, quite frankly, we do! Let us do the baking for your holiday gatherings while you do the relaxing. With an assortment of pies, Smiley Cookies, fresh-baked breads, rolls, and more, Eat’n Park is your one-stop-shop for treats that taste like you spent the day slaving away in the kitchen. Don’t worry – we won’t tell anyone that you didn’t!

Plus, our Chocolate Creme Pie is on sale this month for a ridiculously low price – just $7.99 for a WHOLE PIE!! We guarantee you that you won’t find a pie this good for a price this low anywhere else.

But outrageously delicious pie isn’t all we have to offer (though we DO have quite a pie selection – apple, cherry, blackberry, lemon meringue, Oreo crème…). Check out our bakery order form for a list of all the other baked goodies you can pick up at Eat’n Park - Just click here!

Stop in or call your local Eat’n Park today to place your order. Need the number? Click here.

Happy Holidays!

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Friday, November 5, 2010

Caring for Kids – Kicking off Eat'n Park's annual fundraising campaign in style!

Benefitting local children’s hospitals, Caring for Kids is our biggest company-wide fundraiser. Now in its 32nd year, this campaign has raised over $7 million to support our neighbors in need.

We kicked off this year’s campaign in style yesterday with a show-stopping procession of 75 candy red 2011 Ford Fiestas that turned heads all over town. Pittsburgh police escorted the parade from Cranberry Township to its destination: our newest Eat’n Park in Fox Chapel. Believe us, it was quite a sight!


Smiley, Fiesta style!

Coming across the Clemente Bridge...



Passing Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh

So, what’s this have to do with raising money for kids? Well, thanks to the generosity of The Neighborhood Ford Store, we will be raffling off one of these vehicles to a lucky winner at the end of the Caring for Kids campaign. Raffle tickets can be purchased for just $2 each in any of our Eat’n Park restaurants, now through December 12. Eat’n Park guests like you will have a chance to check out the Ford Fiesta up close and personal, because we’ll have one parked at every location for the duration of the campaign.

Besides purchasing a raffle ticket (or 10 – why not buy a few for family and friends?), there are plenty of other ways to contribute to the campaign. Stop in to any Eat’n Park to pick up our all-new Smiley Christmas ornament for just $3 – we guarantee it will brighten up anyone’s tree! Our ever-popular Smiley magnets will also be available in a variety of colors for just $2 each. These items make excellent stocking stuffers, and you can feel good about helping a great cause at the same time.
Smiley ornaments - $3 each
 Smiley magnets - $2 each

Finally, we’ll have special events, like Tips for Tots, taking place at our restaurants throughout the campaign. We’ll be posting a weekly schedule here on our blog, so check back often.

Here’s to helping the kids!
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Thursday, November 4, 2010

From Orchard to Cider at Eat'n Park - The Journey of the Apple, Part 2

Last month, I told you about my visit to Carolyn and Scott McQuiston of Dawson’s Orchards in Enon Valley, PA. Dawson’s provides some of the apples that are used to make the local apple cider that we’re now featuring in our restaurants. Scott and Carolyn gave me a tour of their orchards, and enlightened me on how the apples are grown and harvested (click here to read that post).

However, to see how they’re processed into apple cider, I had to visit Hays Cider Mill in nearby Columbiana, OH. Hays processes Dawson’s apples, as well as apples from several other local orchards.


The apples arrive at Hays in large wooden crates containing 18 bushels of apples each. From one crate of apples, Hays will produce about 70 gallons of cider, or roughly 4 gallons per bushel. There’s no one variety of apple that makes the best cider – the best flavor comes from a mix of different varieties of sweet, tart, and aromatic apples.



Numerous varieties of crated apples await processing

The apples are fed into the press, which when full, can produce 300 gallons of cider. As the apples come through the press, the juice is strained through clean cloths to keep any solid particles out.

The cider press


Remnants of pressed apples. What a mess!

The juice is then transported into a pasteurizer, while the remnants of the pressed apples ride a conveyor belt out into a dump truck. They’re then used as feed for cattle or fertilizer for fields. As you can see in the photo above, making cider is messy business. For every 6 hours the press is in operation, there are 3 hours of cleanup needed afterward.

The round stainless steel vessel below is the pasteurizer. Hays (and all other cider producers) are required to pasteurize their product any time they sell it through a third party (like Eat’n Park). The cider is heated in the pasteurizer, which kills any bacteria that may be present. Pasteurized cider also lasts longer.

The pasteurizer

Pasteurizer control panel

Finally, the pasteurized cider is bottled. The bottling line at Hays is pictured below, and you can see the empty bottles being fed onto the turn table where they’re filled, capped, labeled, and moved on toward the packing line. Packed cider will be picked up by our distributor and delivered to each Eat’n Park location for our guests to enjoy.

Cider on the bottling line

So there you have it: the journey of the apple from orchard to cider to Eat’n Park. Now that you’ve gotten a behind-the-scenes look, I hope you’ll stop in to try some of this delicious cider firsthand.

Until next time,
Jamie
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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tour our newest, greenest Eat'n Park in Fox Chapel!

Join Pittsburgh's own Ian Rosenberger for a fun inside (and outside!) look at our newest Eat'n Park location at the Waterworks Mall in Fox Chapel. Watch as our 40-foot wind turbine is installed, and check out some of the restaurant's other green features, like our induction stovetops. 

And don't worry - we didn't really let him operate the crane!


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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween Treat: Coupon for 20% off takeout at Eat'n Park, this weekend only!

Halloween is already upon us, and between the many fall festivities taking place this weekend, you probably have a busy schedule planned. No time to cook? We can help!

Make life easier by ordering takeout from Eat'n Park, and then save big with this coupon for 20% off your takeout purchase.  Just print your coupon, then bring it with you when you pick up your takeout order Friday through Sunday, October 29-31, 2010.

Click here to print your coupon now!


Coupon valid Friday-Sunday, October 29-31, 2010.
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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Eat'n Park Halloween Carving Contest Results!

Thanks to everyone who participated in our Eat'n Park-themed Halloween carving contest! Below are the winning photos, as well as a few honorable mentions that we couldn't resist sharing.  Enjoy!

Our winner!
Linda A. of White Oak, PA. That face looks hauntingly familiar....


Second place:
Kari B. of Imperial, PA. Love the Smiley pumpkin top!


Third place:
Charlie C., from Saint Marys, Georgia snatches a cookie from a unique cookie jar!


Honorable mention:
From one of our team members, Bill M. We never knew Smiley could look so scary!


Honorable mention:
Bob J. of West Mifflin, PA. This one just made us laugh. Love your creativity, Bob!


 Honorable mention:
Elsie A. of Pittsburgh, PA. Great rendition of a classic smile!





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Thursday, October 21, 2010

From Orchard to Cider at Eat'n Park - The Journey of the Apple, Part 1

Fall is now upon us. It’s amazing how fast the summer has gone. Fall to me means pumpkin pie, winter squash and apple cider. If you haven’t visited your neighborhood Eat’n Park this month, I would highly recommend it. Along with our fall specials, we are now featuring unbelievable apple cider from several local orchards. With orchard-fresh cider, just the right spices, and an orange slice, this is the best hot cider you'll find anywhere!

One of the orchards supplying our cider is Dawson’s Orchards, located in Enon Valley, PA – about an hour and a half north of Pittsburgh. Owned and operated by Carolyn and Scott McQuiston, Dawson’s grows more than 15 varieties of apples, as well as an assortment of other fruits including peaches, pears, nectarines, plums, and berries. Because Scott and Carolyn are some of the nicest folks I’ve ever met, I asked them to indulge my curiosity by showing me just how an apple is grown, harvested, processed, and consumed, from orchard to cider press to Eat’n Park. Of course, they obliged!

As Scott led me through the orchards, two of the first things I noticed were metal pots interspersed throughout the rows of apple trees, and a large windmill towering 40 feet above the orchard.



Top: A smudge pot in the orchard.
Bottom: The wind machine.
Scott explained to me that the metal “smudge pots” worked in conjunction with the wind machine to raise the temperature in the orchard on those chilly spring nights, when the apple buds are in danger of being killed by frost. The smudge pots are essentially heaters. However, because heat rises, their effect would be minimal without the use of the wind machine. Powered by a car engine, the wind machine forces the warm air back down over the orchard, keeping the temperature warm enough to prevent the fragile buds from freezing.

Next, Scott showed me some of the newest apple trees, and explained how they’re planted and supported. Many of these trees were trellised – supported with a stake near the trunk, and additional support wires running horizontally down the entire row of trees. As we got closer, I could see why these young trees needed so much support – they were absolutely loaded with apples! As they grow, young trees are pruned to remove any unnecessary branches, so that the tree can direct its energy into producing fruit.




Top: Me among some of the young apple trees.
Bottom: Close-up of a branch loaded with apples.

As we continued through the picturesque orchard, I noticed large wooden crates in some of the rows. Scott explained that as the apples are handpicked, they’re carefully put into these crates, which hold about 18 bushels each. The crates are then transported by forklift over to the processing and storage building, where they’ll be cleaned, sorted, packed, and stored.


Top: Crates of apples ready to be processed.
Bottom: Apples in cold storage.

To begin the cleaning process, the entire crate of apples is gently submerged in a tank of water, causing the apples to float up. This is preferable to dumping them out of the crate, which would likely cause bruising and damage to the apples.


Top: I watch as a crate of apples is submerged in the tank.
Bottom: Floating apples drifting toward the cleaning unit.
Like a bunch of ducks in a ducky derby, the apples then drift toward a conveyor belt that takes them into a cleaning unit, then through a waxer.  Clean and shiny, the apples roll out on the other side onto another conveyor belt, where they’re moved to a sorting line.
 



Top: Apples on the conveyor belt to be sorted.
Bottom: Apples being weighed and bagged after sorting.

From there, Dawson’s team members sort the apples, removing any that have been damaged at all during cleaning. The remaining apples are sorted into 3 categories, based solely on their appearance. The best looking apples are “trayed” – meaning that they’ll be offered for sale individually. The second best looking apples are bagged for sale by the pound or bushel. The remaining apples – which are just as good in quality, though not in appearance – are sorted for processing into cider.

Dawson’s sends their apples to Hays Cider Press, 14 miles away in Columbiana, OH. I wanted to see that process too, so I made a trip to Hays, which I’ll write about in my next post.



Top: Carolyn shows me some of the pears that Dawson’s grows.
Bottom: Scott in the orchard.

Before I could say my goodbyes to Carolyn and Scott, they insisted that I sit down and enjoy one of Carolyn’s (amazing!) homemade apple dumplings. They never let me leave hungry!

I talked Carolyn into sharing her recipe, so aspiring cooks, read on:

Apple Dumplings
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 cups sifted flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¾ cup shortening
¼ cup butter
½ cup milk
6 small apples

To make sauce: Combine sugar, water, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook 5 minutes; add butter. Pare and core apples while sauce is cooking.

Add salt and baking powder to flour; cut in shortening. Add milk all at once. Stir until flour is moistened. Roll to ¼” thick; cut into 6 – 5” squares. Place one cut up apple onto each square. Sprinkle generously with additional sugar and spices and dot with butter. Fold up corners and pinch together. Place 1” apart in greased baking dish. Pour sauce over dumplings and bake at 375F for 35 minutes. Serve hot with ice cream or whipped cream.

For more information about Dawson's Orchards, visit their website at http://www.dawsonsorchards.com/.
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