So THAT’S why you never get enough of your favourites! Behind-the-scenes look at the Quality Street factory reveals a production system flaw that can lead to more or less of certain chocolates in the tin
- Gregg Wallace goes behind-the-scenes of the chocolate factory in Halifax
- BBC Two’s Inside the Factory investigates exactly how Quality Street are made
- Ten of the 12 sweets and made with fondant or caramel using a different process
- Clever sorting machines have to distribute the right amount of sweets per tin
- If any contents fall out factory workers then add by hand to make up the weight
Quality Street fans are often left disgruntled when a tin doesn’t contain enough of their favourites – and now the reason behind the discrepancy has finally been revealed.
In tonight’s episode of BBC Two’s Inside the Factory Gregg Wallace goes behind-the-scenes of Nestlé’s Halifax factory, which produces up to twelve million Quality Street sweets every single day in the run up to Christmas, and a staggering two million festive tins.
Sophisticated machinery may ensure that Quality Street fans get a fair share of their festive favourites per tin – but it turns out the process is not completely reliable.
Gregg spotted a slight flaw in the precision-run sorting machines, when some sweets fell out during the packing process.
He was reassured there’s a secret contingency for when this occurs – a factory worker will hand pick any chocolate of their choice to top up the exact weight.
This means customers won’t be short changed when it comes to overall weight, but it explains why it often seems as if there’s more or less of one of more flavour
Gregg Wallace and Cherry Healey visit the Quality Street factory in Halifax where they discover exactly how the festive favourites are made
Out of the twelve sweets inside the Quality Street tin, ten are made with fondant or caramel which involves an extra process before they are wrapped and packed ready for customers
The sophisticated system of weighing machines sees each section deposit a selection of chocolates.
They have to reach the correct weight for each tub before the dropper releases them.
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All the sweets are then dropped into a separate blue bucket below which is then marched into the tin area.
What chocolates do you get in a tin of Quality Street?
The Purple One
Milk Choc Block
Every hour 2,500 tins are filled which is 72 tonnes of sweets per day, non-stop 24-7.
While monitoring the packing line Gregg spots that some of the sweets bounce out when the tin is getting filled and asks if that means ‘some people will go short?’.
But a factory worker reassures Gregg: ‘Sure, but we have a counter measure for that.’
If any tins are under the required 1.2kg, they are automatically rejected and topped up by hand until that goal is reached.
They are then put back on and then go to off to have lids put on, just eight hours after arriving at the factory as liquid chocolate, before the finished tins are whipped off to distribution.
On the Purple One factory line the machine wraps 400 sweets a minute. After each chocolate is pushed on to the machine two finger-like contraptions know exactly when to present the cellophane wrapper
Gregg discovers that when a sweet falls out of the tin then the factory workers are on hand to top it back up to the correct weight so no customer misses out
It’s the source of many arguments every year with families arguing over their favourite chocolates and who gets what from each tin, and what’s often left over
With 5,500 individual chocolates packaged and dropped into tins every minute, Gregg and his team follow the process that has been putting colour into the UK’s Christmas for more than 80 years.
Every day twelve tankers with 20 tonnes of liquid chocolate heated to 50 degrees celsius, arrive at the Halifax plant from Nestlé’s factory in York where it is made.
WHEN DID QUALITY STREET FIRST LAUNCH?
Quality Street has been one of the nation’s favourite Christmas chocolates for more than 80 years.
Each pack contains a variety of high quality chocolates and toffees in iconic shapes, tightly wrapped like sparkling jewels.
Quality Street was first introduced in 1936 in Halifax, West Yorkshire by Harold Mackintosh.
Harold was the son of John and Violet Mackintosh who created the Toffee Deluxe as a standalone product earlier in the 20th century.
In just one hour, 800 kilograms of toffee are cut into precise 10mm x 55mm sticks before disappearing under a chocolate waterfall.
On the Orange Crunch factory line 250,000 shells per hour are made while the centres make an epic 45-minute journey along 400 metres of conveyors before they are filled.
In the Purple One section a machine individually wraps 24,000 chocolates an hour, which is more than enough for 210 tins.
The chocolate is lifted up to the paper, then it is wrapped, the ends are twisted by two finger-like contraptions.
In the run up to Christmas ten lorries leave the factory every day – sent all over the UK and Ireland ready to hit supermarket shelves.
Julie Maher, Technical Operator in Sweet Wrapping department, said of the documentary: ‘We are delighted to show BBC viewers how we make our iconic sweets and I am really looking forward to watching it with my family now.’
Lee Healey, Technical Operator in Toffee department, said: ‘Making a programme about making sweets is very different from making sweets.
‘The detail needed to explain what is second nature to us made it challenging but it was really great to work with the crew and Gregg seemed genuinely fascinated by our processes.’
Inside the Christmas Factory airs on BBC Two tonight at 8pm
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