Granola is somewhere between cereal and cookies. Pop a handful of the oat-clustery nuggets and you realize how close they are to oatmeal cookie crumbs. And that's part of why we love it so much: you can pretend you're not eating cookies for breakfast, but you kind of are.
It's no big surprise then that a granola factory smells like a bakery with cookies in the oven. Trays of 'nola brown and cool on racks at the Granola Factory in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where 24-year-old Calvin Virgilio took us on a tour. He grew up at his family's B&B around the corner, the quaint Bethlehem Inn, where his mom Suzanne has been serving her honey pecan granola to guests with breakfast for years.
Once the guests became hooked and started demanding the recipe, she couldn't bake enough of the stuff at the inn's kitchen. In 2006, they opened a bakery around the corner.
It's a simple operation inside this 3,000-square-foot bakery: one oven, one mixer, and two other bakers in addition to Calvin and Suzanne. They produce 800 bags a week in a few different flavors: Cherry Almond Quinoa, Honey Pecan, and Organic Grains and Honey. "The cherry almond granola came from a scone recipe," said Suzanne, who also teaches home-ec at the nearby Easton Area High School.
The Granola Factory's bakery is open Thursdays and Fridays. Pick up a bag of granola or whatever else looks good—they also bake fresh scones, muffins, Bethlehem Bars, and offer a savory lunch menu. You can find the granola at select Wegmens stores where it's about $5 a bag; they're working to expand to more markets, including Whole Foods, this year. Or order online.
The Granola Factory
518 Long Street, Bethlehem PA 18018 (map); 610-868-8100 Open 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fridays and 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays.