Sweden, November 2000.
I was on one of my very first business trips; I was in Jönköping and had the opportunity to taste a candy with a filling of salted powder – salmiak – for the first time.
On first impression, such a combination seemed to be very bizarre – even for an Italian globetrotter like me. But I took courage and tasted the matching between sweet and salty: I was happily surprised! It worked!
I felt nothing like that until several years later, when I first visited Mexico and discovered that this combination was similar to a traditional Mexican product. The only difference is that in Mexico the concept of salty takes a backseat, because it is covered by the intense spicy flavor.
You can breathe spicy chili everywhere, in many dishes of typical Mexican cuisine, both as an ingredient and as a condiment. But it can even be found in “sweet” products such as lollipops; this is a sweet and spicy combination that appeals to adults and children.
How do you combine chili and lollipops?
There are a number of methods:
- Adding the chili to the cooked sugar or pumping it as a filling inside the lollipop.
- Another version is to make lollipops “enchiladas”, that is, to cover them with chili powder.
- A third method – which I personally consider as one of the most interesting to enhance the combination of cooked sugar and chili – is to ensure that lollipops are wrapped together with a large quantity of chili powder.
In this way, the sweet and spicy taste is continuously enhanced with every taste of lollipop, by dipping it in its dressing every time you taste it. Its flavor duration is prolonged.
An important advantage to be considered – especially in recent times with the great attention to hygiene – is the fact that the product is hermetically sealed.
(In case you were wondering … yes, the stick is also sealed inside the packing).
In this way, flavor and aroma are preserved and the protection and perfect preservation of the dressing powder are granted.
Why are spicy suckers mainly made in Mexico?
It goes without saying that this type of product has a lot of potential for innovation and possible combinations among any kind of product, sweet or salty. So, why is this type of lollipop so common in Mexico, where we can find a wide offer from different producers compared to other countries?
Is it because the rest of the world doesn’t like the combination of sweet and spicy flavor?
Thanks to several possible combinations, we could develop a lot of products suitable for the European market or any other continent. To do this, it would be enough to replace chili with something else. For example, you could replace chili with other types of powder such as sherbet – a combination of sugar, citric acid and bicarbonate.
Some manufacturers already do this, but they are a rarity, still a small market niche outside Mexico. But the reason for the spread of these products, especially in Mexico, cannot be justified solely by the combination of tastes.
Traditional production technologies for this type of products still require a lot of manual work; the fact that in Mexico the cost of labor is lower than in other countries, certainly facilitates the spread of these products and the containment of its cost of production.
At this point, another explanation of the limited diffusion of these products could be related to the production method.
What are the limits of traditional production methods?
I had the opportunity – during my many business trips – to visit some production sites where I could notice some limitations of the traditional technologies used to produce these lollipops.
First of all, traditional production lines are often inflexible and tied to the production of the usual flat or spherical shapes. Such shapes add little appeal to this type of product with powder. They clash on the market with the classic lollipops that are less complex and expensive to produce.
So, how could we boost these products and make them difficult to match and different from the classic lollipops?
The possibility to dip a lollipop in a dressing, at each taste, amplifies and extends the flavor.Thereby, the final product acquires an almost individualized added value.
What if we could add to this product a unique, three-dimensional shape that can perfectly match the powder dressing inside the wrapping? It would be like a sort of spoon to take the filling and then … you can also eat the spoon!
At this point the second limit of traditional technologies takes over.
A three-dimensional lollipop could be of great appeal but more complicated and less performing to be manufactured on traditional equipment.
Traditional candy forming systems – such as forming cylinders – have some big limits:
- Evident scraps on the profile of the product and not very precise shapes.
- Products not always repeatable because influenced by the manual skill of the operators.
- Generate many production wastes, due to the areas that are not engraved on the surface of the cylinders.
- Finally, the production volume is limited by the preponderant presence of the manual skill.
The result is a product not attractive for the final consumer.
A further manufacturing step that can limit the production of three-dimensional lollipop is cooling:
Traditional tunnels may not be efficient in cooling 3D shapes.
3D lollipops could “deform/flatten” on the cooling nets of flat lollipops tunnels or couldn’t roll on oscillating plates of spherical lollipops ones.
And finally we arrive at the final stage of wrapping and powder filling.
The feeding plates of traditional wrapping machines cannot be fed fully automatically. This requires a heavy involvement of operators who have to carry out different phases of this process in a manual way.
Economically speaking: low production, lower efficiency and higher costs of the final product.
How can the limits of traditional candy production be exceeded?
Nuova Euromec has developed tailored-made solutions to overcome the limits of traditional candy forming lines:
- A new generation forming system:
- Developed to ensure total flexibility in producing any type of lollipop and any shape (flat, spherical, 3D).
- It allows to obtain perfectly shaped and seamless products with reduced scraps.
- It eases quick shape change-over to react to changes imposed by the market.
- Designed to develop a new product generation with multicolors and fillings.
- It guarantees a high production to economically justify the investment required.
- Touch-less cooling of the product:
- It allows to avoid contact with any surface during cooling and wrapping.
- It ensures 3D products to maintain their perfect, attractive and unique shape.
- Designed to be easy to use, wash and maintain.
- Total wrapping of the product (including the stick) which guarantees maximum hygiene and the possibility to insert powder dressings (chili, sherbet, salmiak etc…).
- Fully automated production process:
- Synchronized from mass preparation to forming, cooling, wrapping and powder filling.
- Designed to minimize human intervention.
- It guarantees high quality standards because each product is repeatable and identical.
- It allows 3 shifts operations to optimize production even with continuous and automatic cooking processes.
- Making investment sustainable and competitive from an economic point of view by reducing the labour required.
As demonstrated, we have all the technologies to develop and spread these types of products around the world.
For more information, please take a look at our website or contact us directly by filling out the following form, so that you can communicate with us as soon as possible.
Thank you for your attention and for your time!
Author: Mauro Gesti, Sales Manager.