Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Medford, Oregon ... Home of Harry and David

Monday is a day for the drive 15 miles north to the home of Harry and David, the company many of us associate with office / work Christmas gifts and parties.  I've always loved their products, especially their sweets!

First a little background history:  Harry and David's was founded in 1910, when a successful Seattle hotelier, Samuel Rosenberg, sold his hotel and purchased 240 acres of pear tree orchards in Medford, Oregon. Upon his demise in 1914, the orchards were taken over by his sons, Harry and David, who grew and sold pears and other produce locally.  During the Great Depression, the brothers decided they needed to find other venues / opportunities for their business; they put together several lovely gift baskets, boarded a train in Oregon and traveled to the Big Apple, where they presented baskets to large firms there with the suggestion of using these fruits for customer recognition during the Holiday Season.  Thus began the highly successful mail order business of  Harry and David, known best for their "Fruit of the Month" club and their "Tower of Gifts."  The family-owned company was sold in 2004 to an investment firm and is still privately held.  It is the single largest employer in the Rogue River Valley of Oregon with 2,500 permanent employees and over 3,000 seasonal employees.  The company is recognized for being good to their employees; the average H and D worker having over ten years with the firm.  There are 3200 acres of fruit trees and they use 30,000 gallons of Guittard liquid chocolate per year that is delivered 2-3 times per week from Guittard Chocolate Company, headquartered in Burlingame, California.  They have their own delivery system that delivers to regional FedEx terminals, to then be delivered everywhere else.

I'm off from the camp about 11:30 for the short drive up I-5 to Medford for my scheduled kitchen tour  at Harry and David at 12:30.  The tour tickets are $5 each but you're given a $5 coupon to spend in the store after the tour.  Here are several unretouched shots of the store, where the tour begins and ends, and the first half of the tour itself.  [I found out the hard way that the memory card in my camera has not deleted photos after I've uploaded to my computer so I didn't have enough space to shoot the last portion of the tour.  A nice gentleman with the group has offered to send me photos of the fruit preparation and packing areas when he gets home to Michigan].

This is the beautiful store where I could be tempted to spend my life's savings!

The lady giving us the tour has been a H&D employee for 25 years.

This is the butter waiting to be added to the giant vat along with other ingredients to make the caramel coating for Moose Munch.  There are something like 13 different flavors of Moose Munch.  Yum!

 The caramel is just right when the popped corn is added and coated with  sensationally delicious caramel.  Lecithin is added to the batch so that the popcorn doesn't clump.

One batch of  basic Moose Munch headed for the machine that makes the various flavors.

 Scrumptiously clean atmosphere
Baklava - the best this side of Greece and Turkey
 Cookies - filled, dipped, good
 Coffee cakes and fruit cakes
Already preparing Christmas fruit cakes - about 8 different flavors.  This is a three-citrus fruit cake.

Oh, oh, where are the workers?  Employees work in teams; the whole team takes breaks and lunch at the same time, rather than having lunch-break substitute workers.
Also, the team members do all components of the work so they're vested in the results.  For many jobs, the employee earns an hourly wage + an incentive for productivity and accuracy.
                                                                        This lady is inspecting white chocolate truffles - I do have        
to admit I might not be such a chocoholic if I had to
smell it all day.  It's sooo sweet!
                         Here is a photo of a photo of Harry and David - 
their temperaments and interests were complimentary.
One liked the marketing and sales aspects of the business;
the other the day to day operations.    What a team.


  1. Mary-Pat - sent you an email. Hmmm, a tour of Harry and David might just have to be on the agenda on our way home Friday. --Dave

  2. Interesting, I have never heard of this company. Next time we are in the US I will look for it.

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