Free samples aren’t just an effective marketing ploy, they’re also a great way for broke college students to try some new flavors.
Lancaster has a bunch of places to try a sample or two, just don’t be the person that asks for one of everything. Those little ice cream spoons are adorable as hell, but that employee doesn’t get paid enough to deal with your indecision. Try a couple of things that really interest you and, if you actually like it, buy it – or wait for parents weekend like I do.
Ripping shots in college doesn’t just have to involve cheap liquor. At Seasons Olive Oil & Vinegar Taproom, you can try an enormous selection of oils, vinegars and lotions, no chaser necessary. Some editors favorites include the fig balsamic, chipotle olive oil and blood orange olive oil lotion.
S. Clyde Weaver
This infamous stand at Central Market brings all the shoppers to their yard with their awesome samples of fine cheeses. They have a few pre-cut cheese boards for you to taste from and don’t be afraid to ask to try other varieties. They usually have one of their BellaVitano cheeses to taste, which have delicious rinds soaked in balsamic vinegar, merlot, and other exciting flavors.
Amish Family Recipes
Another favorite of Central Market, this is the place in Lancaster to get your canned goods. Try one of their 34 famed salsas, jams, jellies, mustards, pickled vegetables, bbq sauce or dressings. If you want something unusually delicious, try a dollop of one of their pepper jams on a cracker. It’s slightly spicy, slightly sweet and completely addictive.
Lancaster Pickle Company
The Lancaster Pickle Co’s quirky location matches its equally unique products. Instead of your traditional dill or bread and butter pickles, you get to try flavors like horseradish, garlic and onion, or spicy green tomatoes.
Pro-tip: Save the pickle juice to use with your own vegetables. Pickle some asparagus for a fantastic bloody marry garnish or just use the juice for a killer hangover cure.
Herr’s Snack Factory Tour
South-Central PA has a lot of famous snacks to be proud of, including the Herr’s Company. It’s a bit of a drive from F&M – about 45 minutes – but the tour is free and includes free samples of pretzels, chips and chocolate right off of the factory belt.
If you couldn’t tell, Central Market has a lot to sample. Thom’s Bread serves a number of savory and sweet breads (not sweetbreads, google it if you dare) that are perfect for entertaining. Try the kalamata olive or chocolate boule, sure to be your new favorites.
Thistle Finch Distillery
For the adults out there, take a tour of the only operational distillery in Lancaster on Saturday afternoons. Tours are free and come with a few samples of their hand-crafted spirits.
The Turkey Hill Experience
Who wouldn’t want s’more of this? #nationalsmoreday A photo posted by Turkey Hill Dairy (@turkeyhilldairy) on Aug 10, 2015 at 7:56am PDT
Okay, you have to pay to go on the tour. But for under $10 a ticket, you make up for it with unlimited “free samples” of locally made Turkey Hill ice cream. Learn how our favorite ice cream is made, ride around in style on a milk truck and, if you want to pay a little extra, create your own pint of uniquely flavored ice cream.
Intercourse Canning Company
Every F&M student’s favorite town, Intercourse, PA, is home to one of the most extensive canning stores around. From 11am to 3pm on Wednesday through Saturday witness a canning demonstration and savor the flavors of local food, such as Amish and Italian Spaghetti Sauce or Dutch Apple Maple Jam. Samples are included, of (inter)course!
Lancaster First Fridays
There is no set list of where to go for some free snacking, but with the city’s most notable restaurants, art galleries, and concert venues open to the public, you can be sure to grab a few nibbles as you take in the sights. If you’re of drinking age, there might be some wine in it for you too.