Warm Connections {Day 20}: Harry and David and the Perfect Pear

A couple of weeks ago, I was a part of an incredible experience here in southern Oregon. I’ve lived in the Rogue Valley most of my life, almost 50 years (yes, this post dates me!), so when I was asked to be a part of Harry and David’s 2-day blogging event, I was thrilled.

Warm connections come when hospitality and nostalgia meet.

One of the things about blogging is that you meet new people all the time, and you learn so much about their lives. Here is the group that came, a few from afar, hanging out together as we toured the orchards. (Complete list of bloggers at the bottom.)

I’m going to walk you through the 2-day experience with Harry and David, but by the end of the event, I became a little teary-eyed. One, I was so impressed with the whole organization and how it’s run. Secondly, I have an aunt that devoted her entire life to Harry and David. She is still alive, in her 90s, and retired from the company. And thirdly, I loved the “family feel” that the staff at H&D relayed to us bloggers. My mom and her sisters worked in the H&D orchards while growing up. So when I talk about “family-feel,” I recall fond memories involving my own family members.

Loved meeting these three ladies (well, already knew Dana). Dana, from Dana Treat, Selena, from The Farm Chicks and Sarah from Go Gingham.

The first night Harry and David made it evident how much they love our valley, by inviting us to a farm dinner at Hillcrest Valley View Winery. It was a lovely sit-down dinner with many courses, fantastic H&D staff who joined us, and hours of eating, drinking, and learning more about each other (bloggers and staff) and the company.




I came away with these simple thoughts:
-They care about each and every pear and product they represent.
-They care about each and every employee who works for them.
-And they cared about us, as bloggers, and valued our opinions and experience.

Our first event during the daytime tour with Harry and David was a visit to the orchards. The beautiful Rogue Valley is full of Harry and David orchards and I was in awe, once again, at the beauty and heritage that we have here in southern Oregon.

I have a tasty recipe coming up on RE that features the Comice Pear, and did you know that their biggest crop is the Royal Riviera, which is a Comice pear? Many people don’t know the correlation between the two names.

Matt was so interesting. He’s Harry and David’s horticulturist and I must say, he was funny and delightful! And smart! Who knows what he thought of us bloggers, as we asked a zillion questions, but we loved him! He took us on a ride through the orchards to learn more.

Matt shared with us the ebb and flow of the orchards, the weather changes, the no-sleep-nights, of wondering if the hail and storms would ruin the 40,000 tons of pears that would eventually be harvested. (I am not sure I could handle his job!)

I looked at my photos of the ash on the pears and then remembered Matt letting us know that it was a spray on the organic fruit that kills the pesky pests.

I missed the pear packing part of the tour (just getting back from this trip, and getting ready to leave town for this trip), but I hear it was very informative: the way the pears are photographed over and over, checking for blemishes and imperfections (blemished pears are sent on to make juice), and how the perfect ones make it into the “gift baskets.”

Another part of the Harry and David tour was visiting the Candy Kitchen Product Development and Testing Lab. Greeted at the front door by Charlie, who’s been creating chocolates and treats at the factory for many years, was an aroma that about slayed us all–butter and sugar–one of my favorite smells in the kitchen. (Isn’t it ironic that his name is Charlie? We all thought of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!)

So we went on the sugary, sweet, yummy-smelling tour with Charlie ….

It was a delight to see so many workers smiling and loving their jobs. Who wouldn’t, working with so much chocolate and sweets? :)

Most people who think of Harry and David think of gift baskets, pears, and Moose Munch. We got to see the live production, and for a minute I pictured us all diving into a big pool of Moose Munch. That would have been heavenly. It’s one of my family favorites: Chocolate, caramel corn, almonds and cashews. And real butter. Delicious!


Charlie informed us that every bag of Moose Munch is bagged and labeled by hand. Love that personal touch! I’m always sending Moose Munch to my friend, Barb, who lives in WI. :)

I loved seeing the process of the Cinnamon Swirl.


Truffles, Baklava, cakes and … cheesecake. My daughter’s favorite birthday treat has always been Harry and David’s cheesecake!


So a trip through the orchards and a kitchen tour with Charlie, brought back the nostalgic feelings of love and heritage and a connectedness to a Rogue Valley icon, one dear to my heart, Harry and David.

Warm connections come when we share the warm, good feeling deep inside of something that means a lot to us.

Do you have a company in your town that brings you a warm nostalgic feeling? I’d love to hear what it is!?

Some of my new friends who toured Harry and David with me:

Dana Treat

Eat The Love

Time Out Mom

Go Gingham

Lick My Spoon

Baking Bites

Cool Mom Picks

Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

The Farm Chicks

You can visit Harry and David’s website here. Harry and David provided lunch and dinner and several gift baskets, but they did not pay me to write this post today. You can visit al of my 31 Days of Warm Connections, at the bottom of THIS post.

   

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14 Responses to “Warm Connections {Day 20}: Harry and David and the Perfect Pear”

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    1
    Marlene — October 20, 2011 @ 12:55 am

    I loved this post! My first experience with Harry and David’s was a wedding gift 33 years ago. They are a wonderful company and we have used them for many years. It was fun to get a peek into how it’s all done. :)

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    sheri — October 20, 2011 @ 4:52 am

    i drool every year over the H&D catalog that arrives. I was amazed at how perfect the pears actually were when my MIL received a basked a few years back. It was so gorgeous it stayed on the table for a few days – no one wanted to be the one to de-face all that beauty!!

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    3
    Heather — October 20, 2011 @ 5:15 am

    Another thing we Canadians are missing out on. First it was Target, the Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel. Now it’s Harry & David.
    Seriously though, it looks like an amazing company with amazing products in an amazing setting. Glad you got to go.

  4. #
    4
    teresa — October 20, 2011 @ 6:09 am

    Every-time I visit my daughter – we stop in at Harry and Davids to get treats to take to my Daughter in St. Helens.
    I love their store….
    Sounds like you had a great time!
    Happy Day

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    Mary — October 20, 2011 @ 8:19 am

    Hi Sandy,

    Thank you so much for sharing all this wonderful info about your trip! And I loved all the photos. I am looking forward to learning more about Harry and David’s.

    When I was about 7 living in White Plains, New York, I asked my mom to buy a box of instant no-burn pudding. Instant pudding was something new then and I was very intrigued. My mom graciously bought it and we brought it home and made it. And guess what happened? It burned!

    Well…as I mentioned above, we lived in White Plains which just happened to be the home of the corporate headquarters for General Foods. And it was GF that had made the pudding. My mom suggested I write the company, so I did! A few weeks later a man in a drak suit showed up at my front door and I ran upstairs and hid, afraid I was in trouble…LOL! The man was from General Foods and apologized profusely for the burnt pudding and explained that it had been a bad batch. He then presented me with a case of new pudding! Now that’s what I call good customer service…I will remember at always!

    Love,

    Mary

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    Cara @ WhimsySmitten — October 20, 2011 @ 8:28 am

    LOVE Harry & David. And I’m officially jealous. Looks like a wonderful time — so glad you got to be a part of it, and that you passed it on to us. :)

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    Melanie Dorsey — October 20, 2011 @ 11:00 am

    Sounds wonderful. I like the graininess of a pear.

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    CHrista — October 20, 2011 @ 11:33 am

    Oh how I enjoyed your post. I moved away from Southern Oregon due to necessity and I miss it very much. Love Harry and David and your pictures warmed my heart. THank you!

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    Sara Tetreault — October 20, 2011 @ 2:00 pm

    Sandy,
    What a great post! I loved hearing about your family connections to H + D. It was such a pleasure spending time with you and I’ll forward to our next time together – whenever that is! Wish you could have been at our blogger meet-up today in Portland.

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    Kristin — October 20, 2011 @ 2:52 pm

    I have never heard of Harry and Davids before. Sounds like I need to make a road trip to the USA. Looks like you had a lot of fun. What great hosts they were!

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    Erika — October 23, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

    I love the Rogue valley. I live in Oregon also. I am glad that Harry and David are coming back with success, a few years back someone gave me some Harry and David chocolate which I didn’t know they had at the time and I was shocked at how great it was. Love it and in makes you come back for more. There call centers for the holidays I have heard from friends who have worked there in Eugene said it was one of the best holiday temp jobs they ever had. I also can say they have great gift ideas and wonderful fruit also. ;)

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