It is Labor Day here in the U.S., and I am fondly remembering the best paying, hardest and maybe most curious employment experience ever.

I washed raisins in a Pepperidge Farm bakery. pepperidge

I was a summer substitute, working for college expenses, willing to do the jobs no one else wanted to do, to earn the most I could in those few months of school break.

They found out early that although little, I was strong, and determined.

I came in early and stayed late, relieving the regular factory staff, who found the 100 degree temperatures in the summer months unbearable.

The dough needed to be in a warm, moist environment; employee comfort was a distant concern. I took advantage. I earned enough to avoid the school-year job that burdened so many of my classmates.

raisinShowing up at 5 a.m. every summer morning, donning the white uniform and hairnet, I proceeded to my station.

Using a small step stool, I reached up to a large metal tub equipped to sort and wash the 50 pound boxes of the compressed fruit.

I weighed barely 100 lbs. at the time, so I was lifting half of my body weight up to shoulder level. With gloved hands, I pushed the raisins through a water-washed filter, removing twigs, stems and livestock (bugs, mostly) that had been packed into those sticky boxes.

I still eat that stuff today, I understand the level of quality control, and I know those raisins are clean.

This entry was posted in Food, Inspiration, Work and Career and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Labor

  1. As someone who worked a lot of construction I can appreciate, and am very impressed, with your ability to manipulate 50 pounds of raisins.

  2. LaVagabonde says:

    Now that’s an interesting job. Good to hear about the quality standards.

  3. Sounds like a hard job Van, but rewarding nonetheless 🙂

  4. What a job, Van! My uncle used to work at Pepperidge Farm and he’d bring home raisin bread. I still love it… especially toasted with a little butter and cinnamon sugar. 😀

  5. George says:

    Now that’s an interesting job. I happen to enjoy that bread, and now hat I know the quality control is top notch, I won’t feel bad eating more…:)

  6. Nurse Kelly says:

    Who would think washing raisins would have such an impact on your life? All that this post says just made my holiday – thanks, Van xo

  7. Wonderful post. Took me back to my part time, summer and full time jobs.

  8. amommasview says:

    Good on you. And amazing that you still eat it. Sometimes, when you work on things like that you lose interest in it…

  9. That is quite an image: little you with the enormous raisin box. I can’t say I’d ever even realize this was a job if you hadn’t said it!

  10. badfish says:

    LABOR DAY. I haven’t had a labor day (or 4th of July) in 15 years (been living out of the country!). And Pepperidge Farms!!
    A raisin washer, ha!!

  11. lbeth1950 says:

    You have had more interesting jobs than anybody I know.

  12. markbialczak says:

    Bravo, Van! That is a tough job there. My most demanding physically was working during my first Christmas break from college in the shipping department of a small local company that made typewriter and early generation printer ink ribbons. Hauling in filled drums of ink from the trucks was quite hard! And filling those trucks with the backed boxes of ribbons as quickly as possible was no picnic, either. But the pay was great. I still remember that the owner of the company, Mr. George McAleer, heard me talking on bar stools side-by-side with my father how I wanted to earn as much money as possible over break, and he excused himself into the conversation and offered me the job on the spot. The job was 40 hours weekly for the whole break, and the pay was great for 1975, too, I recall. And I think I lost 10 pounds, to top it off. 🙂 Thanks for shaking this long lost memory out of me, my friend.

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