Thursday, July 15, 1999 | 11:24 a.m.
A popular Henderson tourist attraction has shut its doors to the public after drawing up to 500,000 visitors a year since 1986.
Favorite Brands International, which makes the Jet Puff marshmallow brand at 1180 Marshmallow Lane, is no longer allowing the public to tour the facility because visitors were upset that they couldn't view the production line, plant manager Fausto Chavez said.
When the factory was built by the Kidd family in 1986, Chavez said, windows were put in front of the marshmallow production area so children and adults alike could see first-hand the creation of the gooey-sweet confections.
At the end of the tour, visitors received 4-ounce bags of the latest marshmallows and could buy T-shirts, hats, mugs and other marshmallow-related merchandise in the factory gift shop.
But when Favorite Brands, the fourth-largest candy company in the country, acquired the factory in 1996, a more efficient line was installed that made the older line obsolete and the production area inaccessible to the public, Chavez said.
"The old line rarely ran and people were getting upset," Chavez said. "When (tour goers) came in and saw no line running, boy did we get it."
"We felt it was best to stop the tour" because people who visited the plant were coming away with a negative opinion of the company when they couldn't see how marshmallows were made, Chavez said.
The marshmallow plant was one of four popular manufacturer's tours in Henderson, Camber of Commerce spokeswoman Gayle Rogers said.
Ethel M Chocolates, Ocean Spray Cranberries and Ron Lee's World of Clowns are the other three popular businesses that allow tours through their plants.
Rogers, who visited the marshmallow plant with her children, said the tour would be missed.
"It was interesting, kids always liked it," Rogers said. "I think it was very educational ... to see the marshmallows being made was a lot of fun."
Rogers expects the cancellation of the tour through marshmallow land to disappoint locals at first, but she doesn't think it will leave a lasting impression.
"It's disappointing for the city of Henderson (but) I don't think it will have a tremendous impact on the tourist industry," Rogers said.
Chavez realizes the tour was good for the company since it was a popular stop for locals.