For many Italians (and me too) the Mexican dream is represented by the Yucatan peninsula with its sites dating back to the ancient Mayan civilization (Chichen Itza, Uxmal) and by the beautiful Caribbean beaches of the Mayan Riviera.
Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulun are some beautiful places where I spent my honeymoon in May 2003. But I’ve always had another Mexican dream, a professional dream, that had begun to take shape a few years earlier.
It was 1998, an important year for New Euromec, and a small revolution in the way of producing lollipops was started. That year marked the entry of New Euromec into the world of lollipop forming. This date is linked to a fundamental event for our company: the beginning of the collaboration with Mr. Jorge Ibarra, who definitively projected us into OUR Mexican dream. Mr. Ibarra with his brothers represented one of the largest groups of Mexican confectionery, certainly the most innovative in lollipops:
Years later this company passed to another large group in the sector: Barcel / Ricolino.
At that time they were producing about a hundred types of lollipops with the most varied shapes and colors. They were the strangest lollipop forms I’d ever seen. Until that moment I thought lollipops could only be flat or spherical, but in Mexico I discovered a stunning world of new shapes and color combinations. It was incredible to see how it was possible to realize, with semi-automatic systems, such fanciful and original forms.
The imagination and genius of Mr. Jorge Ibarra were at the base of the technical development of those products. He was one of the first lollipop manufacturers to understand the enormous potential of the chain forming system applied to lollipops; he gave us the impulse to develop the first die set to form a three-dimensional lollipop:
El Tarrito: meaning in Spanish “jug”
A three-dimensional lollipop, with two colors perfectly positioned in automatic. The chain forming system applied to lollipops, immediately unleashed all the potential flexibility and production speed that Mr. Ibarra had glimpsed from the beginning.
The new chain system was not only distinguished by the possibility of producing innovative shapes. Some of those shapes had never been seen on traditional rotary forming systems, which until then had never gone further than the realization of simple spherical or cylindrical shapes.
In addition to the shapes, the chain system allowed to position and maintain in a perfect way also the position and the combination of two colors. Moreover, the shape change took place in 10 minutes at most (the fastest available on the market): an advantage of immense flexibility, for a lollipop producer who had more than 100 formats in his catalogue.
So it was natural – after the success of the Tarrito die – to create many other three-dimensional shapes for Dulces Vero Group. Brocha (Brush), Elote (Cob), Sandia (Watermelon), Mango, Trebalenguas (Basket) soon became their leading products and the most imitated in Mexico.
I could stop here the telling of the innovations we had introduced together.
As we would have noticed years later, at that time we revolutionized the traditional technology of producing lollipop, introducing three-dimensional and multi-color shapes.
But this was only the first part of the Mexican dream…
Although we had automated and improved the quality of these products, the Mexican imagination still had a lot to offer. Jorge Ibarra shared with us a further dream: being able to produce another historical shape in a fully automatic way:
The traffic light (Semàforo)
The traffic light is a lollipop composed of three separate balls, of three different colors, on the same stick.
Lollipop forming: technological constraints at that time
At that time, we were only at the beginning of our development in lollipop forming and we still did not have all the knowledge and experience, that we have been accumulating after more than 20 years of continuous research and development. Therefore, at least for this special product, we continued to use the traditional method of forming cylinders.
Unfortunately the manual feeding of colored masses and sticks gives as a result a product with many imperfections.
Traffic light lollipop traditionally formed with cylinders
We can summarize the main problems of this system in the following points:
- many scraps on the product profile due to the action of forming rollers.
- irregular color distribution due to manual feeding of the same colors.
- high waste of cooked sugar due to very manual process.
- insertion of the sticks not constant and not always centered.
- low production due to the high human intervention required in all stages of production.
Although the product maintains a high appeal for the final consumer, probably all the limitations of the classical technology listed above reduce its potential on the market.
Pursuing the Mexican dream: here is the double lollipop!
Our innate attitude in developing new lollipops has not stopped over the years. The more we acquired experience and knowledge – experimenting with new lollipop shapes (with every type of filling and up to 4 colors automatically) – the more our ambition to find a solution to the Mexican dream of traffic light grew.
Over the years we have been following the vision of automating this process, and we have developed several solutions to produce a lollipop with more balls on the same stick.
The basic stages can be summarized as follows:
- We have created a new batch roller that nobody had ever made: the double batch roller, which has allowed us to automatically match from 2 up to 4 colors.
- In this way we can automatically feed the multicolored sugar ropes and check their position up to the forming machine.
- The last step was to create a double lollipop die set, which allowed us to form up to two separate balls on the same stick.
The two balls can have different combinations of colors, volumes and shapes because fed by two different ropes, separate and autonomous, that meet only in the final stage of forming. It is also possible to combine masses of different types to create lollipops with two different textures such as a soft ball (caramel or chewy) and a hard one.
Other advantages allowed by this revolution in lollipop forming system are:
- Fully automatic continuous process.
- Multicolor products.
- Possibility to add filling.
- Constant and precise position of the colors.
- High quality of the final product constant and repeatable.
- Direct feed to the wrapping machine in 4 seals or flow-pack.
On the same line it is possible to produce traditional lollipops with a single ball and so get the maximum return on the investment with a versatile line.
Since 1998 – when we first entered lollipop world – we have come a long way.
We continue to experiment and we are not far from realizing the Mexican dream of traffic light.… We’re at two balls for now, but we’re ready to put in the third one.
Author: Mauro Gesti, Sales Manager.