washington apple boxes

Growing up in Washington, apples were plentiful and produce boxes were a common sight. Tree Top was the go-to snack at lunchtime.

Tree Top merchandise

As a child, I thought of the company as a big, fancy corporation. I'd watch Mister Rogers' factory visits on PBS and imagine my applesauce being churned out en masse. It wasn't until I was a little older that I learned Tree Top is a cooperative owned by independent local growers. The apples sold at our neighborhood stands were the same apples that wound up in those little cups. Watching my neighbors cultivate their farms, I developed a respect for the process and a fascination with the path from farm to table.

vintage Tree Top

As a blogger I've had the joy of connecting with the company directly and meeting many of the faces behind Tree Top. I've learned that it was started by a family with values similar to my own.

Chelsea in Yakima

On our road trip to Washington earlier this month, I had the joy of visiting Tree Top's home base in Selah. Can I just stop for a minute and share the beauty of this state? Our hotel OVERLOOKED A RIVER. Well, technically a stream. Waterways like this are uncommon in California, so we get really excited about them. I've moved away from Washington over ten years ago and I miss these sights.

I remarked over the rushing water to some locals and they seemed amused. “You live in San Diego now! You have beaches!”

Nate and Some Boy at the park

This green and blue everywhere, this quiet lifestyle takes me back to childhood. It warmed my heart to see my children playing at the local park with acres and acres of grass. Just like I did. These towns, these stories, they're truly a part of my history.

Touring Tree Top

Tree Top headquarters

I got to go on an exclusive tour of the main plant and was further impressed with the quality of operations behind Tree Top. I've gotten a sneak peek at a number of facilities like this, and it was interesting to see how Tree Top does things differently. To maintain more nutrition and taste, Tree Top's applesauce is made from the whole apple as opposed to one that's been cored and peeled (or worse – boiled down and extracted). They don't use high fructose corn syrup and while their factories do some manufacturing for other companies, Tree Top's own unique formulas are proprietary and not sold under house brand names. I even got to see how the organic and conventional produce is handled on completely separate tracks, and tested down to the most microscopic level you can imagine. Every single item is time-stamped so that if need be, it can be tracked to the second it was produced.

Tree Top apple sauce pouches

The last thing I saw on the tour was Tree Top's newest creation, and it had me pretty much beside myself giddy. Tree Top pouches! With no sugar added! These handy on-the-go applesauces come in a variety of flavors (all of which my kids LOVE, by the way) and can be found in the canned fruit aisle. Tree Top has even gone the extra mile with their pouch production, making a cap that's breathable in case a child tries to swallow it. They also have a unique pouch injection process that keeps the top portion from oxidizing. You know that weird brownish stuff that usually comes out of baby food pouches when you first open them? Yick. None of that here.

Tree Top mascot

While the factory tour is closed to the public, Tree Top has a sweet gift shop full of every kind of produce merchandise you could imagine. They also have really neat displays that tell the history of the company. I scoped out this awesome former mascot of Tree Top and begged them to please revive this little dude in their marketing materials. SO cute.

Anything else you want to know about Tree Top? Or apples? Or factory production? Ask away!